April Madison Board of Education Progress Report

The month of April brings showers, however, for the Madison BOE it brings new beginnings, budget challenges and community dialogue.

First, regarding new beginnings let me congratulate Beth Moss and Maya Cole on their election onto the Madison school board. They will be replacing the retiring Shwaw Vang and Ruth Robarts. Our community should be proud of Mr. Vang and Ms. Robarts’ years of service. I was also re-elected to a second term and look forward to continued public service in this position. In addition to new board members, the board decided unanimously to name the new school General Vang Pao Elementary. Second, the Madison School District faces a $7.1 million dollar shortfall, which has the board discussing school closings and consolidations, increasing elementary class sizes in several schools, increasing class sizes across the district in elementary art, music, gym and REACH, and eliminating the 5th grade strings program. After fourteen years of being under the state imposed revenue limits, the budget cuts are now reaching the point of cutting into the foundation of our educational values. Third, several public hearings on the budget reductions will be held throughout the community including on Tuesday April 17th at LaFollette and Thursday April 19th at Memorial. Both hearings are at 6:30 pm. The 2007-08 budget will be finalized in late April or early May. Fourth, the board voted down an operating referendum proposal that could have taken place in the summer. However, given our budgetary situation I won’t be surprised to see an operating referendum on the ballot in February 2008. Fifth, the board approved a Request For Proposals for consultants to conduct a superintendent search and decided on health insurance contributions for Administrators.
Board Committees:
A full month of public hearings and board workshop agendas kept many committees from meeting since my last report. However, the committees have played an important part in analysis and discussion this year. Finance and Operations (Lawrie Kobza, Chair) continues its work on the citizen’s budget. Long Range Planning (Carol Carstensen, Chair) held public hearings in the community regarding the proposed closings and consolidations. Communications (Arlene Silveira, Chair) held a special workshop regarding community advocacy efforts regarding lobbying our state government for additional K-12 funding. Community Partnerships (Lucy Mathiak, Chair) received a presentation regarding the process and procedure the UW Foundation uses to engage people to make contributions.
MMSD News:
On Monday March 26th, the MMSD held its annual recognition awards honoring district staff, students and citizens who have made significant contributions to Madison’s outstanding schools. Nine students received the Joe Thomas Community Service Award, five teachers were recognized for their work toward the Kohl Teacher Fellowship, and eleven individuals received the Distinguished Service Award. For more MMSD news click here: http://mmsd.org/today/
Thank you for your interest and support of the MMSD.
Johnny Winston, Jr., President, Madison Board of Education
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