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Madison Preparatory Academy could easily open if it followed the same model as the district’s other charter schools, Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said in response to yesterday’s Urban League press conference.

But the current proposal is "unacceptable" to Madison teachers because it would "effectively eliminate School Board oversight of the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer money" and violate the district’s contract with its union, Matthews said.

Matthews initially declined to comment on Madison Prep when I contacted him yesterday, but later responded in an e-mail.

In his response, Matthews criticized Madison Prep’s plan to pay its teachers lower salaries and benefits than other district teachers, and not offer overtime for working longer days.

He also said the Urban League is incorrect in asserting that the current union contract can be modified without nullifying it under the state’s new collective bargaining law.

Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, chastised the School District and union Thursday for opposing Madison Prep, which would be geared toward low-income, minority students.

Unlike the district’s other charter schools, Wright and Badger Rock middle schools and Nuestro Mundo, Madison Prep is proposed as a school that would employ nonunion staff and have limited School Board oversight.

At one point, Caire and Matthews reached agreement on the school having unionized staff, but a district analysis determined it would cost $10.4 million more over five years to comply with the union’s contract. As a result, the proposal was changed to nonunion teachers.

The School Board is expected to vote on the proposal on Dec. 19.

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