FOX47 NEWS - Madison Superintendent Retires

Jeff Angileri
Jun 30, 2008, 9:30 PM

The top man in the Madison school system is officially retired.

In a career spanning more than 42 years, Art Rainwater has been a teacher, principal, and administrator. He says even though the Madison school district is 171 years old, he's leaving behind one of the most innovative districts in the country.

Art Rainwater doesn't believe superintendents have legacies, but hopes he is remembered for treating Madison's 25,000 students as individuals.

We get involved with grouping children, he said. These are children with disabilities, or these are African American children, or white children, or these are children who speak another language, and we group them together, instead of looking at them for what they are.

That kind of mission statement, he says, begins in the classroom.

the single most important thing in this school district or any other is the teacher and the child.

Maintaining that dynamic has become more challenging because of the schools' demographics, which have changed considerably since Rainwater began in 1999...more low income students, more bi-lingual families, more resources divided.

The problems are not unique to Madison, he says, but the way people here confront them makes all the difference. Backed by a strong connection to the UW System, Rainwater believes the people of madison make perennial sacrifices in the name of education.

Whether that's passing a referendum, volunteering or whatever it's been, Rainwater says, You have a culture of that...And it's one of the things that makes it great.

Rainwater says there are two issues facing Madison schools that he tried, but was never fully able to address---first is the need for more wide ranging options for early childhood education, from birth to age four; the other, paying for ever-evolving technology in the classroom.

Dan Nerad starts tomorrow as the next superintendent of Madison schools - he comes from Green Bay's district.

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