Brown gives Board equity update

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Director of Equity and Student Achievement Percy Brown Jr. shared with the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 10 more of the efforts the District has done to address equity and opportunities for all of its students and staff.  

He shared that some job descriptions and titles have changed to reflect the work that engagement specialists are doing. He believes the internal professional development the District is doing with equity is saving MCPASD up to $500,000 annually.

"Out internal professional development is outstanding. No district in the area has done that amount of work,'' said Brown, who singled out Assistant Superintendent Sherri Cyra, Director of Secondary Education Laura Love, Director of Elementary Education Rainey Briggs and Director of Employee Services Tabatha Gundrum for their efforts.
He was thrilled with the District's efforts to diversify its staff. He said since 2014 the percentage of staff of color has gone from 2 to 12.5 percent, while administrative staff of color has increased 17 percent.

Brown was excited about the Data Summit the District held in August for members of school improvement teams and believes using that information will help identify what more can be done to better serve the most disenfranchised students.

In 2018-19, the mentoring program will focus on identity development for elementary students, while more enrichment opportunities will be provided at the middle and high school levels with hopes of raising engagement level and participation, Brown said. Data will be used to evaluate the results.

Another staff Equity Institute was held in June, while the second annual Student Institute ran at the same time with nearly 100 participants. He shared that students provided some demands for what they expect to succeed and thrive in the District.

"This is going to help us transform into a more equitable system,'' Brown said.

Brown and Superintendent George Mavroulis attended a meeting on July 31 involving superintendents from the area, who showed strong support for a Dane County Equity Consortium. He believes MCPASD and its school board can be a leader in this effort.

"There was a willingness from all the districts to take on the journey in a collaborative way because we all have a responsibility to work together,'' he said.

Brown noted that new MHS administrator Denise Hanson received a grant while she worked in Madison Metropolitan that will pay MCPASD students who live in the Elver Park area to mentor other students. The students could receive as much as $500 per semester. He also said there is an opportunity for students participating in the mentoring program to be guaranteed a summer job with MSCR and that the Middleton Recreation Department is hoping to replicate the program.

"It's cool to see our students engaged and with opportunities for employment,'' Brown said. "It's impressive and encouraging. ... If we put kids first, we are moving in the right direction.''

Brown suggested the District look at its policies to create a more equitable system and one that supports the work being done moving forward. The Board asked if students of color feel like this is a place for them. Brown said he wasn't sure if that was the case a few years ago but believes it is getting better. He hopes the curriculum renewal process will lead to multiple perspectives, which will benefit all students.

"It's not just a Middleton issue, it's the type of thing going on across Dane County,'' Brown said.

Brown noted the Board will receive four reports on equity this year with the next one scheduled for November. He plans to bring students and staff to future presentations.   

In other news from Monday's meeting:

* The Board briefly discussed whether to reconvene the Policy Committee and next steps. Mavroulis said another option would be to have Cheryl Janssen update the Board on policies that have become outdated. The Board also wondered if policies need to be added. Bob Green noted that Board policies give guidance to administration and if no policy in place it is hard to be upset with a decision the District makes.

Sean Hyland felt there was value in having a policy committee, especially the deep discussions that took place. He suggested keeping at least one former member on any new committee.

The Board liked the idea of re-visiting this after the referendum. Todd Smith also suggested having individual members read the policies rather than having the committee go through them one at a time.

* The Board approved the District Strategy Map and school board goals for 2018-19. Each item was reviewed at the regular meeting on Aug. 27.
* The Board approved a payment to Godfrey & Kahn.