By: Sam Schneider, Development Assistant
Walking into Christ Presbyterian Church for a community forum hosted by Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools (GRUMPS), I felt excited. The room was full of energy as community members prepared for an important discussion regarding a potential Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) 2020 referendum. I was warmly greeted by members of GRUMPS who offered me coffee and cookies for enjoyment. As I made a round of introductions to folks in attendance, one person jokingly stated to me, “Hey, you’re not a grandpa, what’s your role here?” As we shared a moment of laughter, I responded confidently, “As a staff person of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, I am committed to advocating on behalf of our public schools”-an integral part of the Foundation’s mission.
At the Foundation, we work to raise awareness of the excellent things occurring in our public schools, as well as the need for ongoing public and private support from the community. Advocacy issues such as referenda directly affect the future of the people we serve, the 27,000 scholars and nearly 5,500 staff in our fifty public schools, and therefore, being present at conversations such as this forum is a must for us.
During the meeting, a panel of MMSD senior leadership effectively communicated details on plans for two potential referenda questions:
Participants responded with genuine enthusiasm, eager to share their thoughts. I was impressed with the astute questions and concerns being raised. At one instance, as I jotted down some ideas, a man tapped my shoulder and kindly asked if I had made note of a fact he thought to be particularly important—it turns out I had. This just happened to be one of the many major talking points referenced at the meeting. Some of these topics and concerns were:
- How the current state funding model for public education as well voucher and charter programs impact the need for a potential MMSD referendum;
- How possible referendum funds would allow MMSD to continue and expand upon their positive academic momentum; and
- How new facilities renovations align with MMSD’s work on racial equity and social justice.
What my time at the GRUMPS forum proved to me, was our community members are thoroughly invested in what a potential referendum could mean for our public schools- one of the pillars to a vibrant Madison community. The support of grandparents involved with GRUMPS is incredible, but it is going to take the entire community coming together to show Madison’s young scholars we are invested in them now and into the future.
The Foundation will continue to gather and share the latest news on potential 2020 referendum questions, so please stay tuned! The Board of Education should decide whether to go to referenda sometime in March-May of 2020.
Here’s what we confidently say NOW: If the Board of Education decides to put referendum questions on the ballot, the Foundation will be ready to work with organizations like GRUMPS and other public school supporters to advocate for a YES vote. We know that Schools Make Madison and anything asked of the community to help our public schools should be met with a resounding yes! We cannot afford to miss any opportunity to ensure that every school in our district is a place where every scholar and staff member can thrive!
Learn more about the Foundation’s advocacy efforts here.