Hello Gillespie Families. We are sharing information from a neighboring MMSD Middle School in an effort to voice concerns about the new, later start and end times for Middle Schools next year. Please read the communication below to see how you can help.

Dear MMSD families,

There are many serious issues facing our schools, including our middle schools. As families, it is easy to feel like there isn’t much we can do.  We wanted to share some pathways to voice your experiences and also highlight an issue where our collective input could make change.  

In particular, we are reaching out about the recent announcement that all MMSD middle schools will have later dismissal times (now shifted to 4:25pm).  We have heard from school leaders, parents, students, and teachers that this later dismissal time includes the impacts described below. 

Many believe we are risking the health and safety of our kids for a decision made by adults about bussing (not about our kids).  We also spoke with MMSD leaders and learned that making change on this or any other challenges will require a strong voice from families.  We need parents and students to advocate for change.

Here are three ways to do this:

1.) Take this survey so that we can compile and share our collective opinions with the MMSD Board of Education. Respond as a guest or create an account to stay in touch on the results and increase the credibility of the survey results.  (https://polco.us/shryyu)

2.) Email the following people and share your perspective:

• Interim Superintendent Ms. Lisa Kvistad (lkvistad@madison.k12.wi.us

• MMSD Board of Education (board@madison.k12.wi.us).  

• Associate Superintendent for Middle School Education Dr. Angie Hicks (acrawford@madison.k12.wi.us

3.) Attend the May 20 Board of Education meeting in person or online and stand up to describe what later dismissals mean for your family.  Communicating to the Board is one of the most effective actions you can take because they are key decision makers and likely do not realize the impact of the late dismissal time on families and teachers.  https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/about/board-of-education/board-of-education-virtual-meetings

Impacts of later dismissal time:

  • We risk losing our top teachers who may find it more difficult to care for their own families, support after school activities, or meet with parents.  
  • We reduce the effective learning time because our kids will be exhausted by 4pm, thus later dismissals shrink the window for them to learn and grow at school. This will also be exhausting for the teachers who will be trying to keep them occupied rather than focussed on teaching.  
  • Children will be walking home and getting on the bus in the dark!  For November, December and January the kids will still be in class when the sun sets.  They will walk home in the dark or near-dark October-March!  We need to keep our kids safe as they return home from school.  
  • Kids will have reduced options for after-school play. The window for our kids to walk home together, play or socialize after school is too small.  
  • This change will make it more difficult for the kids to be well-rounded.  Many extracurricular activities begin as early as 4:30pm. The late dismissal makes some after-school activities impossible or stressful because parents and kids must rush to activities without a chance to eat, use the bathroom, change etc. This is particularly concerning because many middle schools have limited after school sports or other activities, which makes off-campus opportunities critical for well-rounded kids. 
  • Later dismissal reduces family time and the support and care for younger siblings.
  • Later start means middle schoolers are more likely to not see working parents in the morning, further reducing family connections

All surrounding school districts have an earlier dismissal. There is no doubt that our middle schoolers should not have an early start, but this shift is too late.  We suggest that there is a middle pathway where students could be released closer to 3:45pm, which is the norm for surrounding districts. 

Thank you for considering this.  We are hopeful that as a collective we can shine a light on the needs of our kids that deserve a chance to play, to return home safely, and to chase their dreams in art, music, sports and everything else!

Please reach out to learn more or to any concerns or questions: mmsdlatedismissal@gmail.com

Best regards,

Velma Hamilton Middle School PTO