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New Madison School Board president Ali Muldrow eyes all-day 4K, closing achievement gaps
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MADISON SCHOOL BOARD | 2021-22 BUDGET

New Madison School Board president Ali Muldrow eyes all-day 4K, closing achievement gaps

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The Madison School Board’s new president is emphasizing implementation of district-wide access to full-day 4-year-old kindergarten, literacy initiatives and efforts to close the achievement gap between students of color and white students.

Ali Muldrow was elected board president and Savion Castro was elected vice president on Monday. Along with Superintendent Carlton Jenkins, those three positions are now all held by Black people for the first time in history in a school district with nearly 20% Black student population.

Ali Muldrow

Muldrow

James Howard, former School Board president for six out of the nine years that he served, said he’s confident in Muldrow’s ability to lead the district in rectifying issues that have taken a back seat to COVID-19, such as literacy and closing racial achievement gaps, an issue that has long plagued the district.

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“I think she’ll do a good job. When you’re elected president, what it says is that fellow board members believe you’re the person most capable of leading the district over the next year,” Howard said.

Muldrow served as vice president under former president Gloria Reyes, who announced she would not seek reelection to the board in December. Reyes cited a new job as CEO and executive director of Briarpatch Youth Services — a nonprofit that serves at-risk and homeless youths — as a reason behind her decision to leave after one three-year term.

Muldrow said she hopes to lay the groundwork for the district to implement full-day 4K, among a number of other initiatives. She and Castro were pivotal in the board’s unanimous decision to remove school resource officers from high schools last summer — an effort that was not initially supported by Reyes, a former Madison police officer.

Savion Castro

Castro

“In the next 10 years we want every child who enters (the Madison School District) to have full-day 4K, to have a world-class education, to graduate speaking multiple languages and registered to vote with a driver’s license and a passport. We want our students to be prepared for the economy of the future and be able to participate in the global reality that we’re creating right now in this moment,” Muldrow said. “This School Board, this body of leadership, is shaping education for generations.”

She said it’s the common ground among board members that will help to shape those goals.

Expanding 4K

The district launched a half-day 4K program in 2011 and, 10 years later, Jenkins hopes to expand the program to include full-day offerings through his preliminary draft budget for the 2021-22 school year. The budget includes $1.3 million to support full-day 4-year-old kindergarten in eight of the district’s elementary schools with the highest percentage of low-income students.

Gov. Tony Evers is also seeking to fully fund full-day 4K statewide through his second biennial budget proposal, which has yet to be approved by the Legislature.

Jenkins’ preliminary draft budget also seeks to fund early literacy initiatives to help close the achievement gap between Black and white students in the district. According to the Department of Public Instruction, 11% of Black students in Madison were considered proficient or higher in English language arts during the 2018-19 school year, while 62% of white students were considered proficient or higher.

Board member Christina Gomez-Schmidt said she is confident Muldrow will be able to successfully navigate the challenges of exiting the pandemic and focus on improving outcomes for students with high-quality instruction that is grounded in culturally responsive practices.

Muldrow “has a strategic, systems-level focus and her leadership will be essential in navigating the challenges of the year ahead” as the district begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Gomez-Schmidt said. “I am confident that board President Muldrow will seek to use the talents and strengths of each board member to effectively tackle the goals we set.”


Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces

Make no mistake about it: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have left painful scars. But this year’s Top Workplaces project shows that many employees across the Madison region remain resiliently upbeat and are clinging to their workplace cultures, even from a distance.

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Celebrate the best of Madison’s local employers and hear top executives explain how they create and maintain their cultures of growth.

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This year’s winners run the gamut from dentistry to financial institutions and engineering to software developers and many more.

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Survey feedback from employees is the sole basis for determining Top Workplaces. And that feedback serves as the ultimate test of how employers are responding in the age of COVID.

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This year’s top-ranked large organization, with about 590 Madison-area employees, UW Credit Union has made diversity a priority during the past few years. 

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Exact Sciences, which rose from a small operation to a growing force in cancer diagnostics, thrives on a workplace culture fueled by innovation, teamwork and a common enemy.

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Teamwork, problem-solving and helping agents find success — however they measure it — drive the workplace culture at First Weber Realtors.

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Everyone wants their pre-pandemic lives back, but the crisis revealed the value of Summit Credit Union’s strong culture.

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The ability of Kwik Trip employees to manage change was important to the convenience store chain’s success during the past year, as it expanded, rolled out new product offerings and dealt with COVID-19.

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Here are the other top-ranked large firms in Top Workplaces 2021, rounding out a diverse mix of some of the area’s bigger employers and featuring a range of benefits that employees are able to tap into.

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The Madison-based firm, which develops mass notification software to alert employees at schools, government office and businesses to emergency situations, strives to understand what drives high job satisfaction among its employees.

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WPPI Energy president and CEO Mike Peters says communication is vital to the success of the Sun Prairie-based, member-owned operation that serves 51 local electric utilities with wholesale electric power supply, utility technologies and services.

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Employees at Madison-based Ascendium Education Group have adopted the values and mission of the organization and appreciate the training that keeps them on the cutting edge.

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Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation values humility and customer service in a culture that has buy-in from CEO Steve Jacobson to the newe…

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The disruption and chaos inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic tested the stability of First Choice Dental’s workplace culture.

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The Top Workplaces winners among midsize companies reflect innovative styles to building corporate cultures that their employees embrace. Here’s a look at the other winners in the mid-size category:

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When the pandemic arrived, Horizon Develop Build Manage president and CEO Dan Fitzgerald was certain of one thing: His employee culture, built purposefully and over time, would carry the company through all of the disruption.

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When Jack Koziol started InfoSec Institute in Madison in 2004, he felt that workplace culture was nothing more than a corporate buzzword. Seventeen years later, he knows better.

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In the past chaos-packed year, revenues dipped for the downtown advertising, design and digital agency — a result of the economic mess created by the pandemic — and the agency had its first layoffs in 20 years, while its staff was scattered to complete work remotely.

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Being successful in providing customers with information technology solutions and services starts with a family-centered culture based on fun, gratitude and expertise at AE Business Solutions.

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The Sun Prairie-based company, which specializes in servicing and supplying components for heavy-duty, off-highway equipment through 10 service centers in the U.S. and Canada, strives for transparency.

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Although winners in the small-company category reflect a variety of missions, they share a common characteristic: They have built strong workplaces that provide stand-out benefits and flexibility. Here are the other winners in the small-company category:

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Among this year’s Top Workplaces, employees singled out several companies for their extraordinary efforts in important phases of workplace life, ranging from leadership to transparency.

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Businesses that suddenly found themselves in the midst of a pandemic that shattered conventional ways of working quickly discovered that a strong workplace culture was vital to surviving and thriving during the crisis.

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We have no idea what the extent of these changes will be or whether this whole notion of “normal” will ever find itself back into our lives.

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Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, spoke about what makes CUNA’s culture special.

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Kathy Marsh, co-founder and vice chair of Musicnotes, shares her thoughts on the workplace culture at the Madison-based digital sheet music retailer.

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Larry Barton, chief executive officer of Strang, talks about creating a strong culture at the Madison-based firm. 

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To become a Top Workplace, organizations instill in their team members a variety of values and approaches that keep their businesses thriving in the marketplace, their employees engaged and their communities strong.

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