A flurry of questions during Madison Superintendent's open forum - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

A flurry of questions during Madison Superintendent's open forum


MADISON (WKOW)-- A wide-range of concerns from Madison parents came during an open forum Thursday night. Many parents and teachers voiced their opinions on several issues while  newly hired superintendent Jennifer Cheatham listened intently to the situation in her new district.

It's the first of four events Cheatham has planned. The first took place 6:30 Thursday night at Madison East High School.

"I'm not going to just whip out the plan and say here it is. We've got to figure it out together," Cheatham says to a crowd or nearly a hundred parents and teachers.

The tone of the evening was set very early on as Cheatham told the crowd how she was looking for input and advice instead of giving it.

"This meeting is about talking about you the parent and the community perspective on what is happening," Cheatham says.

Moments later dozens of parents, teachers, and some who were both, weighed in on their concerns.

"What can you do to insure that parents are going to be held accountable for their child's success?" one parent asks.

"What are your thoughts on teacher evaluation?" another parent/teacher questioned.

With every issue they shared, Cheatham echoed their concern.

"I do think there's a better way to evaluate one another and it's not just teachers. Principals need to be evaluated as well," Cheatham says.

The issues raised were wide-ranging. From the most popular concerns, like how to solve the achievement gap and what to do about a shrinking budget, to lesser known problems like children not having access to technology at home

"I'm worried that those are the parents that tend to need the most support and we're losing them faster and faster by switching to technology," a concerned parent says.

As the evening went on it became clear to Cheatham that there's a lot of topics parents are passionate about. It's that passion and interest that makes her excited to get to work.

"We have a lot to think about and a lot to do, but there are not going to be a lot of easy answers," Cheatham says.

Superintendent Cheatham has the goal of visiting every school in Madison before the end of May.

Here are the times and locations of her upcoming open forums:

Thursday, May 9th at West High School

Thursday, May 16th at Memorial High School

Thursday, May 30th at La Follette High School.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison Metropolitan School District's new superintendent is holding her first public forum Thursday night.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is holding the first of four community days as part of her ongoing entry plan Thursday at East High School. Before the forum, Cheatham is meeting with teachers and staff, holding discussions with students, holding a student-led tour and a neighborhood walk. The forum for parents and community members begins at 6:30 p.m.

"School visits are a central part of my entry plan, and each visit so far has been incredibly important in helping me understand the district's strengths and challenges," Cheatham said. "I'm looking forward to learning more together with parents and community members on Thursday."

Superintendent Cheatham's plan is to visit all schools by the end of May. Community days will be held at each high school at 6:30 p.m. on the following dates:

Thursday, April 18 at East High
Thursday, May 9 at West High
Thursday, May 16 at Memorial High
Thursday, May 30 at La Follette High

27 News' Gordon Severson will have a live report on 27 News at 6, and will have a full recap on 27 News at 10.

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