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School Board Brief: January 13, 2020

January 17, 2020 


Highlights of the January 14, 2020, Wauwatosa School Board meeting

*Please note, these are not official minutes. Minutes of each meeting are approved at the next regular Board meeting.


On January 13, the Board approved the following:

  • Minutes – December 2, 2019 regular meeting.
  • Personnel Matters – Resignations, Hires.
  • Private School Choice vouchers for the month totaling $10,093,684.29.
  • Donation of $50,000.00 from the Wauwatosa Kickers, to be used toward the field lights at East High School

The board was provided updates on or discussed the following:


  • Cemetery Real Estate Transaction – What’s this about? Turns out a small portion of the asphalt driveway to get to the cemetery that sits next to Longfellow Middle School is actually property of the Wauwatosa School District. The cemetery is proposing what’s called a Claim for Deed so that piece of property would be owned by the cemetery. In turn, they would give the district some easements. The exchange would not allow for additional cemetery lots, it’s strictly about access to the land and cleaning up the title. There was no action taken yet.
  • Review of District Data -- The District sets goals every year, guided by data, and uses data to inform decisions, where improvements are needed etc. Michelle Anderson, the District’s data analyst, provided an update on a deep dive into middle school math data.
    • Why focus on middle school math? Because the data was disappointing and we need to understand what’s going on. Forward Exam results show decreasing proficiency for students in “standard” middle school math, specifically from 7-8th grade and lower than expected growth from 5th to 6th
    • So what did they find? After a lengthy and in-depth analysis of the data and trends of cohort data, a pattern emerged based on whether students were in standard math or accelerated math in middle school. Anderson concluded that having two separate pathways - “standard” math and accelerated math - led to worse outcomes for students in the standard math pathway. The message to the school board was that the unintended consequence of our current structure for math classes is that we are most likely reinforcing opportunity gaps in middle school math because students of color, students who are economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities are over-represented in the standard math pathway.
    • How do we fix this? This was the first report on the data. School board members asked a lot of questions. The administration from the District is working with middle school administrators, math teachers and math coaches to dig down on the data and understand any barriers to learning – attendance, behavior/discipline, etc. This is will be an ongoing conversation. Superintendent Dr. Phil Ertl said, “As an educational system, we have things in place that create unintentional consequences but when we recognize and see data like this, in my opinion, it becomes intentional and we have to do something. We have to change some structures.”
    • This is a high-level overview of the conversation. You can watch the full report here.
  • WASB Proposed Resolutions -- WASB delegate and Board President Shawn Rolland gave a quick update on the upcoming meeting. He will represent Wauwatosa. The school board is not proposing any new resolutions but will support some of the resolutions that would directly benefit Wauwatosa and take a neutral or support stance on others that would support other school districts. He’ll provide an update on the conference.
  • Legislative Advocacy Committee Update -- Co-chair Leigh Anne Fraley gave an update on the last LAC meeting and the three areas of focus for the committee this year:
    • Mental Health – They are working on a resolution that they will bring to the full school board at the next meeting. They hope to have a mental health professional also provide some insight via a presentation. The committee has gathered feedback from parents, community members, hospitals, the city, and students on the resolution.
    • School Safety – Members of the committee are continuing to meet with state lawmakers to zero in on legislative change that would expand options a judge would have if a student were to make a threat related to school violence. They’ve also met with Shorewood school board president and superintendent to be a resource and talk about the school threat Shorewood had this fall and how we can engage other school districts and their school boards to build support for things that would benefit students across Wisconsin.
    • Vaping/E-Cigarettes – This is just in the exploratory stage. The committee is looking at a class action lawsuit districts across the country are participating in and exploring how e-cigs and vaping are impacting our student learning. Talking to people at State DOJ. Exploratory conversation. 
  • School Board Elections – All four incumbents are running unopposed in the April 2 election as no new candidates filed papers during the open window. Those incumbents that will appear on the ballot are Seat #4 Leigh Anne Fraley, Seat #5 Mike Phillips, Seat #6 Sharon Muehlfeld, and Seat #7 Steve Doman.


Following the regular meeting, the board adjourned into in-service to discuss the District’s Vision of a Graduate.


To read more in-depth about any of the items approved above, click here to view the Wauwatosa School Board agenda and here to watch the board meeting.