Doyle Building 102721 06-10272021195202 (copy)

The Madison Metropolitan School District offices are located within the Doyle building at 545 W. Dayton St.

The Madison Metropolitan School District has hired more staff for summer semester, allowing 100 of the 700 students who were unenrolled amid staffing shortages to take part.

MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds provided that update in an email to the Cap Times on June 16. It leaves the number of unenrolled students at “roughly 600.”

About two weeks ago, the district informed the families of 700 students who had enrolled for summer classes that they would no longer be able to participate. The email to those families pointed to “unanticipated staffing challenges” and a “tremendous amount of interest” in summer school as reasons for not enrolling about 17% of students who had signed up.

“We understand how this news may affect families in different ways, and we are committed to working with you to identify alternative resources,” the email states. “In the upcoming days, the district will continue its collaborative work with community partners to provide you with additional summer alternatives to consider.”

That left 3,420 students enrolled in the program that begins Monday (today) and runs through the end of July.

The Washington Post reported recently that districts around the United States face summer school staffing shortages, including a mention of MMSD. The Post also highlighted districts in Virginia and Oregon.

Madison Teachers Inc. blamed a pay cut from last summer for the shortages here. Responding to the news of the disenrollment, MTI president Michael Jones wrote in an email that the union had “expressed its concerns” over staffing in January.

This summer, the district is paying $28 an hour for staff. That’s up from the pre-pandemic $25 an hour, but below the $40 an hour rate of last summer, which was boosted by federal COVID-19 relief funding.

MMSD chief financial officer Ross MacPherson told the School Board in March 2022 that the $40 an hour rate, given a lower budget overall for summer semester this year, was “not a sustainable practice.”

“In years past we’ve used $25 an hour as our extended employment rate for summer semester, and at this point we are acknowledging there is a need for an inflationary adjustment of those costs going back to an operational budget,” MacPherson said. MacPherson recommended the $28-an-hour rate.

Unenrollment process

Earlier this month, the district did not publicly outline how it chose which students it unenrolled.

Friday, LeMonds explained the process in an email, and provided demographic information on who was unenrolled.

LeMonds wrote that a team including the district director of summer learning, executive director of assessment and learning supports, associate superintendents, executive director of human resources and executive director of MSCR “met early and often to discuss the impacts of our summer semester staff shortage, brainstormed multiple scenarios, and ultimately, identified criteria for the unenrollment of a percentage of students based on staff hired.”

“The criteria and process was shared with summer semester principals and all SS principals reviewed the list of students prior to unenrollment,” LeMonds wrote.

That criteria included six parts, according to LeMonds:

Students in Transition Ed Programs (TEP): Prioritized for consistent programming during summer

Students in full-day MSCR: Some students enroll for half day and others enroll in a full day (summer semester in the morning and MSCR programming in the afternoon.) Full day students were prioritized to reduce the impact of the afternoon programming that already has a waitlist.

Students in special education: While MMSD does not implement individualized education plans in the summer, the district knows that students with IEPs benefit from this learning support

Students who met grade and attendance criteria: MMSD reviewed the list of students who met the original criteria identified

Critical transitions (4K, fifth grade, eighth grade): identified as a priority in the summer semester vision

Date of enrollment: When a student was enrolled in summer semester

“We applied this criteria systematically to ensure our most vulnerable students were assured continued enrollment and that unenrollment was proportional to the original demographics of students enrolled,” LeMonds wrote.

Data shared with the Cap Times by LeMonds show that the demographics of the unenrolled students largely mirror the percentages of their demographic groups as a part of overall enrollment in the summer semester, with the exception of special education.

Of the 632 students listed as unenrolled as of June 6, 40% were Hispanic, 30% were Black, 13% were white, 9% were two or more races and 8% were Asian. Meanwhile, the demographics of the 3,333 students in grades 4K-8 enrolled as of May 3 were 41% Hispanic, 31% Black, 13% white, 8.8% two or more races and 6% Asian.

Other demographic measures include that 10% of the unenrolled students are in special education programming and 40% are English language learners. Overall enrollment as of May 3 included 40% ELL students and 20% students in special education.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@captimes.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.