Sign in | Register now | Like us on FacebookLike Us | Follow us on TwitterFollow Us

Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Fri
Hi: 77
Lo: 61
Sat
Hi: 80
Lo: 62
Sun
Hi: 81
Lo: 64
Advertise on OnMilwaukee.com
Fernwood Montessori in Bay View is one of three stops on the bus tour of Milwaukee's public Montessori schools on March 7.
Fernwood Montessori in Bay View is one of three stops on the bus tour of Milwaukee's public Montessori schools on March 7.

They're coming by the busload to see our public Montessori schools

Surely, you’ve heard me say it before. Milwaukee Public Schools’ family of public Montessori schools is unrivaled in the United States. No other city can boast seven traditional public Montessori schools plus one district charter Montessori program.

Among MPS’ group of eight schools there is a rare Montessori high school program (at MacDowell), a groundbreaking public Montessori charter (Highland) and schools that are among the highest performing in the district. One of them, Fernwood, is one of just five or six percent of schools in the entire state that was credited with "significantly exceeding expectations" last year.

But don’t take my word for it. In a report a couple years ago the Milwaukee NAACP said MPS’ Montessori schools offer the best opportunity for African-American kids to get a great education in the city.

And now, folks are coming by the busload to check out the schools.

On Friday, March 7, a bus full of folks from Madison is coming to town for the "School Bus Tour of Milwaukee Public Montessori Schools."

The bus will leave Capital City at 8:30 a.m. and make stops at Craig Montessori on the Northwest Side, Highland Community School – now in larger digs in the former MacDowell Montessori building at 17th and Highland – and Fernwood Montessori.

While at Highland, the edu-tourists will enjoy lunch arranged by the community at Maryland Avenue Montessori School. You see, these schools are also a model of how individual programs within MPS can collaborate and share ideas (such as the annual Montessori summit, which took place in January).

The tour was organized by former Craig Montessori teacher Melissa Droessler, who returned to her hometown of Madison to open that city’s first public Montessori school – Isthmus Montessori Academy – which is seeking a charter with Madison Metropolitan School District.

"On Feb. 13, Isthmus Montessori Academy submitted an application to become the first public Montessori school in the Madison Metr…

Read more...
Glass Nickel, like Clutch, La Piazza and Node before it, has closed.
Glass Nickel, like Clutch, La Piazza and Node before it, has closed.

Glass Nickel closes after less than a year on North Avenue

Last March, we reported that Glass Nickel Pizza Co., which was launched in Madison in 1997, was opening a new location at 1504 E. North Ave., in a storefront that had previously housed La Piazza, Clutch and Node coffee shop.

After less than a year in operation, the East Side Glass Nickel Pizza location is closed.

The OnMilwaukee.com offices were once housed in the space above, so I know the area pretty well and I can't help but wonder why these places fail. Sure, most of the nightlife is further east on North Avenue, but there are UW-Milwaukee dorms right across the street and tons of residential units to the south and east/northeast.

I'm not sure when Glass Nickel ceased operation, but recently some signs went up alerting passersby that the space is available. If you've got a solution for this space, call (414) 430-0611.

The Brookfield location remains open.

Teachers, parents, principals, I'm eager to hear how your budgets look for the coming year. Drop me an email and let me know.
Teachers, parents, principals, I'm eager to hear how your budgets look for the coming year. Drop me an email and let me know.

Is re-centralization helping school budgets?

One of the legacies of outgoing MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton will be the re-centralization of many items previously included in individual school budgets (aka "board budgets").

Over the past few years, the district has removed some items from school budgets and gone back to funding them centrally. Things like long-term disability and maternity leaves are no longer paid for out of individual school budgets, for example.

A year ago, the district removed the required principal and school secretary from school-level budgets and added a .2 (one day a week) bookkeeper. And funding for special education teachers was also centralized.

This budget season (FY15), Title I (high poverty) and Title I Targeted Assistance (some poverty) schools are getting two new centralized positions (for the upcoming school year). One is a 30-hour paraprofessional to boost parent engagement at every MPS school.

Another is a School Support Teacher, who will work to coordinate assessments (tests, that is), plan assessment-related professional development for school staff and do mentoring work with teachers in the classroom. This position, I hear, will more resemble that of an implementer than that of a curriculum generalist, which was an administrative position.

Two more adults in each building will be very good news indeed.

While specific schools have found that some re-centralized lines have been a boon, the effects may be mixed in other buildings.

For example, if a school had a building engineer go out on long-term disability before the re-centralization, the budget there took a hit because the school had to pay for two engineers (the one who was out and the replacement). That no longer happens, which is a plus.

But as items become funded centrally, the per-pupil funding to the schools drops (it is currently at about $3,900) and, if your school isn't facing a long-term leave, the deal might sound less attractive.

As my colleague Jay Bullock notes, school safety has been central…

Read more...
The school board must find a leader who can bring the community in, make allies of enemies and inspire more families to be a part of a public school community.
The school board must find a leader who can bring the community in, make allies of enemies and inspire more families to be a part of a public school community. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

Picking a new superintendent isn't easy, but this board can do it

It’s a popular and perennial hobby in Milwaukee to beat up on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors and its members. Their job is an important one and it’s naive to think we will always agree with all nine school board directors.

They’ve always been an easy target. For a single, distant example, even years after the district in 1912 changed the designation of schools from district numbers to street names (for example District 16-2 became Clybourn Street School), pols and pundits raged against that seemingly uncontroversial decision.

The point is, there’s little glory in being a school board member in Milwaukee, and likely in most major American cities. Here, the job is paid as a part-time position, but one need look only at the slate of board and committee meetings to get a sense that this is at least a full-time position. After all, these meetings are just one facet.

There are also meetings with schools and community members and interested parties of all stripes. And those folks call and text and email all the time. It is a school board member’s job to be available to constituents and stakeholders. And there is that binder of reading material a school board member gets regularly. More reading than most people do in a year arrives each month.

Now, I’m not saying every board member ever has been as engaged as his or her colleagues. And I’m not saying every board member ever has fought as hard for Milwaukee’s children as his or her colleagues. And I’m not saying every board member ever has read that binder as attentively and comprehensively as his or her colleagues.

There’s room for improvement, surely, but if you frequent board meetings, you’ll quickly get a sense of the passion and dedication that fuels these talented and qualified adults (Mark Sain is a retired firefighter and Jeff Spence works for the MMSD, for example) to take on this second job that, on most days, likely feels thankless and insanely stressful.

Still, they show up da…

Read more...