Tag Archives: Madison School District

Madison School to Implement “Grading Floor”

If there is no chance of failure, does anyone really succeed?

In an effort to keep students who fail early in their high school careers from falling completely out of school, ninth grade teachers at Madison’s West High School are planning to assign classroom grades of no less than 40%, eliminate extra credit and allow up to 90% credit for late work in required classes.

Madison’s largest high school plans to implement several changes to grading practices this year — primarily meant to keep freshman on-track to graduate during a time when slips in academic performance are not unusual — while other changes school-wide are being sought to create consistent expectations for grading.

Madison School District Sued for Violating Open Records Law

The taxpayers are going to be on the hook for this obvious violation of the law.

Today, the Wisconsin Transparency Project, on behalf of an anonymous Madison resident using the pseudonym John Doe, sued the Madison Metropolitan School District in Dane County Circuit Court. The suit alleges that the District is unlawfully insisting that Doe identify themselves before it will turn over records.

Doe has filed a number of open record requests over the last four months with the District using the online public records database and portal muckrock.com. MuckRock allows its users to send anonymous requests through its website and use the website to receive, track, and share the records provided. Doe’s requests ran the gamut from routine weekly board updates to grant applications and annual School Improvement Plans. The district refused every request because of Doe’s unwillingness to be identified.

State law is perfectly clear that requesters may remain anonymous: “no request . . . may be refused because the person making the request is unwilling to be identified or to state the purpose of the request.” Wis. Stat. § 19.35(1)(i). The District claims Doe must identify themselves so it can decide whether releasing the records would pose a “safety concern,” but the law does not allow that excuse.

Government bodies are becoming increasingly opaque and refusing to comply with the law. Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s District Attorneys are failing to enforce the law. It would only take a few bureaucrats or elected officials being prosecuted and those records would be flying out the door.

Madison Agrees to Pay Teachers More

Heh.

The Madison School District and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement Tuesday to increase base wages for teachers and district employees this year by the maximum allowable amount.

It’s not much of a negotiation when everyone at the table agrees on the maximum amount. Were the taxpayers represented in this negotiation?

Madison School Board Member Compares Police to Nazis

Yes. It’s just like the Nazis and concentration camps. Sure it is. /sarcasm

On Saturday, [Madison School Board Member Ali] Muldrow said on Facebook that “I think that (it’s) important to talk about what it is like for the students who are arrested at school and end up in the Dane County Jail. We would not talk about the role of the Nazis and act as if the experiences people had in concentration camps is a separate issue.”

Oh, and she doubled down before finally apologizing.

Muldrow initially didn’t back down from her Saturday Facebook comments, saying Monday that “the rounding up (of) specific demographics of people, including LGBTQ folks and folks with disabilities, then institutionalizing them in locked facilities, is being done now in a variety of ways and was also done in Nazi Germany.”

Madison gonna Madison. This person is in charge of educating kids.

Madison School Board Denies President

Only in Madison

Madison School Board members quashed a proposal Monday that could have allowed the board president to block other members from requesting information about the school district they are elected to govern.

During an Operations Work Group meeting, board members agreed not to pursue a proposed change to board policy that would have given the board president the ability to deny or alter requests for district information made by other board members.

District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the policy change is part of a routine update of policies and is meant to “codify the board’s current ways of working.”

“We work very hard to fulfill all requests in a timely way,” she said. “In the very rare instance that a request is very difficult to fulfill, we run that request past the board president so they can decide the best way to move forward.”

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said the intent of having the president deny a request would be to make it clear that a district employee does not have to tell a board member a request is too difficult to fulfill.

Madison School District Struggles with Budget

It’s pretty difficult to feel sorry for them, but I feel sorry for the kids.

District officials are calling this year’s budget cycle especially challenging because of a one-two punch. There’s limited funding growth allowed by formulas that mix state aid with the amount the district is allowed to collect from local property taxes. And there’s no unused money carried over from previous years.

“When it comes down to it, if there’s something that I think is a priority that is inadequately funded, essentially, in order to fund that, something else has to be cut,” School Board treasurer TJ Mertz said. “That’s what makes this year different.”

The district is taking $1.6 million out of its reserves and cutting staff to balance the 2016-17 school year budget that’s projected at $496 million. Some fear that’s the new norm in an environment where money and increases in tax levy authority from the state are in short supply.

Public school funding in Wisconsin is dictated by revenue limits, the enrollment-driven amount of money that a district is allowed to collect. The state budget provided no increase in that level for 2016-17, five years after Gov. Scott Walker cut the base per-pupil revenue limit by 5.5 percent, an average of $529 per pupil statewide, as part of changes to public school funding.

In 2011, Walker’s Act 10 gave school districts “tools” by which they could balance the funding decrease by reducing expenditures on staffing. Madison has shown a hesitancy to pass on those costs to its employees.

Here’s the crux of it:

“When it comes down to it, if there’s something that I think is a priority that is inadequately funded, essentially, in order to fund that, something else has to be cut,” School Board treasurer TJ Mertz said. “That’s what makes this year different.”

Yes. Exactly. In the real world, there are scarce resources and we have to prioritize what is important and what is not. To date, the Madison School Board has made it clear what they consider most important with their refusal to have employees do things like pay a reasonable share for their insurance and retirement.

They have the tools to fund what they consider important. Now it’s just a matter of them deciding what is actually important and what is not.

Madison School Board to Cut Staff, Increase Taxes

Remember that this is also a district that has refused to take advantage of Act 10 to control their costs.

The Madison School District would reduce its staff by 1.6 percent and raise property taxes 2.5 percent next year under a balanced budget proposal released Friday by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.

The document is Cheatham’s formal recommendation to the School Board after months of informal feedback from board members. The board now will deliberate and weigh public comments before a vote on June 27.

Under the proposal, the owner of the average-priced home, currently valued at $254,549, would pay taxes of $3,045 to support the education of Madison children, an increase of $74 over the prior year.

Madison School Facing Reality

Apparently they are looking their previous mismanagement in the face.

Faced with another tough budget, Madison School District administrators are again asking the School Board to consider making employees contribute to their health insurance premiums.

Many Wisconsin school districts have taken that step to avoid cuts, but there’s been little appetite among Madison School Board members to seriously consider the idea.

That could be changing. With budgets flat and revenue growth negligible, the board may have little choice but to confront the difficult topic, said James Howard, board president.

but…

The result is that the district needs to find about $1.95 million to cover the projected increase. All of the proposals to be discussed Monday would cover that amount.

To offset some of the sting, the administration is proposing salary increases that would result in a “positive net compensation” for “all employee groups,” even with an employee premium contribution.

If it ends up being a new increase, then it really isn’t saving the taxpayers anything, is it?

The Madison School Board has made the decision for years to prioritize even modest changes in benefits for employees above most other things – including adding more staff, classroom supplies, building maintenance, property tax relief, and everything else. To them, all of those things are less important than making their employees pay a small percentage of the cost of their health insurance premiums like virtually everyone else in our society.