The MMSD Board of Education will vote on the preliminary budget for the 2017-18 school year at their regular meeting on June 26. A coalition of parents, school staff and community members have been working together since April to advocate for class size reduction in this budget. A class size budget amendment is now on the table. We need your help to ensure that this amendment passes and we begin to address the serious issue of growing class sizes in our school district.
Over the past few years, MMSD has been spending millions of dollars on new initiatives and administrative positions, while simultaneously cutting over 100 teaching positions. As a result, class sizes in many of our schools are unacceptably large. Small class sizes make for a positive learning environment and encourage the development of strong student-teacher relationships that are critical for learning. Moreover, small class sizes help staff manage behavior, student feedback and grading, and make the curriculum accessible and engaging for every student.
There is ample research showing the benefits of smaller class sizes. A couple of recent columns in the Capital Times highlight research supporting the benefits of small class sizes, particularly for low-income and minority students:
Here’s how you can help;
- This weekend, send an email to the school board supporting small class sizes and asking them to pass the class size budget amendment. Instructions for emailing the board are below.
- Attend a rally demanding smaller class sizes at 5pm on June 26. We’ll be at the main rear entrance to the Doyle Building. We’re hoping for a strong turnout, so please join us.
- Attend the June 26 school board meeting. The meeting is at 6pm in the Doyle Building auditorium. Please feel welcome to sit with our group – lots of us will be wearing red. And, at this meeting you can…
- Speak to the school board about this issue by making public comments at the June 26 school board meeting. Instructions for making public comments are on the SCAPE website.
Here are some points you can include in your email or public comments to the school board. Please pick whatever points resonate for you and keep your message brief.
- Include your name, role in the district (parent, staff, student, volunteer, citizen, etc.), and school(s) (if applicable.
- Thank the school board members for taking this issue seriously and listening to the many staff, families and community members who have been speaking out for the past two months about the problem of growing class sizes in the district.
- Tell them you are glad to see a proposed amendment to restore small class sizes in the district, and ask them to vote in favor of this amendment.
The 2016 referendum gives the district additional budget flexibility that should be leveraged to address class size. Additionally, should the state budget include new per-pupil aid for our schools, some of this funding should be used to support smaller class sizes.
- The proposed class size amendment includes guidelines that prioritize high-poverty elementary schools, where reduced class sizes will have the most impact. That said, small class sizes are important at all grade levels and schools.
- The amendment also includes requirements for public reporting on how the funds for smaller class sizes are being spent, and how much progress is being made on class size reduction in the district. This reporting is important for budget transparency.
- Small class sizes matter for many reasons including closing achievement gaps, meeting the needs of English language learners, inclusion of students with disabilities, implementation of the Behavior Education Plan, school climate, and building positive relationships in our school communities. (Feel free to include research from the Cap Times columns linked above or the Class Size Matters website.)
- Small class sizes not only provide an optimal learning environment for children, they provide better working conditions for staff that, along with pay increases, will help our district attract and retain the best classroom teachers.
If you have a connection with one or more MMSD schools, share a personal example that demonstrates the benefits of small classes or the challenges of large classes.
Here are the email addresses for individual MMSD School Board members:
Seat 1: Anna Moffit, email@example.com
Seat 2: Mary Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seat 3: Dean Loumos, email@example.com
Seat 4: James Howard, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seat 5: TJ Mertz, email@example.com
Seat 6: Kate Toews, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seat 7: Nicki Vander Meulen, email@example.com
Student rep: Laura Nicholas, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can reach all school board members (except the student representative) at email@example.com. Email sent to this address will also go to district administration.
Thanks so much for taking an active role in fighting for public education. We hope to see you on Monday, June 26. When we stand together, we win.
Madison School Community Alliance for Public Education (SCAPE)
Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) Action Committee