City Council President Shiva Bidar-Sielaff (left) speaks as Superintendent Dan Nerad and Deedra Atkinson of the United Way of Dane County look on.
After months of community and staff input, Superintendent Dan Nerad made revised recommendations on the district’s plan to close the achievement gaps that would cost about half as much as the original plan. Nerad held a press conference on May 14 at the Doyle Administration Building in downtown Madison to explain.
“This plan makes use of several low-cost, high-leverage programs that we feel can yield better results — programs like ACT prep, programs like Dropout Recovery and Math Initiative,” Nerad said. “We know we need to improve academic outcomes for kids and we need to engage better with families. We also know that we need greater diversity in our staff. These are priorities that will emerge in the final plan document.”
Nerad listed the revised recommendations that included:
• Zeroing in on literacy through implementation of research-based curriculum, interventions and assessments, with all schools monitored for successful implementation
• Resources for families including parent liaisons to serve as the consistent connection between families and schools
• Changing the culture of our schools through training in diversity and culturally relevant teaching
• Expansion of the successful AVID/TOPs program to middle schools
• A Mentor Academy to connect disenfranchised students with role models in the community
• Moving away from an outdated discipline system based on suspensions and expulsions toward restorative justice practices
TV cameras roll as Superintendent Dan Nerad (above) speaks at the Doyle Administration Building
The original plan cost about $105 million over five years. The revised plan's price tag is $55.6 million over the same time period. The lower cost is attributed to several initiatives being pushed back, such as extending the school day.
“We know that we can't do this alone. We must work together,” Nerad said. “We've received input from so many members of this community and I can't thank this community enough for joining us in this conversation.”
Nerad was joined by City Council President Shiva Bidar-Sielaff; Deedra Atkinson, senior vice president of community impact for United Way of Dane County; and Kevin Little, director of public policy for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.
“I'm glad to be here representing the City of Madison as a partner in building our future,” Bidar-Sielaff said. “It's critically important for the City of Madison to partner with the school district to make sure that our children receive the level of education they need to be successful in our city and for our future. I want to thank Superintendent Nerad and the school district for taking us to the next step or our conversation as a city around the achievement gap.”
“This is an issue that impacts our entire community and I think that there is a role for everybody in the community to play to solve this issue,” Little added. “We need to make sure that all of our students are graduating high school... but even more than that that they are leaving high school with the skills needed to advance their career and educational goals. It impacts our quality of life, it impacts our economy, it impacts everything we value in our community.”
Nerad is recommending a committee review the extended school day proposal and provide feedback by February for consideration for the 2013-14 school year. Nerad has not recommended in his 2012-13 budget whether the School Board should pay for the plan with a property tax increase, spending cuts, reserve funds or a combination.
“We now have a final achievement gap plan,” Nerad said. “The goal is to be able to have a conversation with the Board of Education between now and June 18 where we hope the board will finalize the preliminary budget for the next school year.
The entire revised plan is available at https://mmsd.org/thefuture. Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, May 22 and Monday, June 11 at 5 p.m. in the McDaniels Auditorium in the Doyle Administration Building.