Welcome to the longest night

Morning update: Wednesday, Dec. 21

Welcome to the longest night
Photo by Clément Falize / Unsplash

Good morning, Madison!

And happy winter solstice. Today marks the shortest day and longest night of the year, vampires everywhere rejoice!

Yesterday, we made a bit of an off-hours announcement. ICYMI: Sam quit his job.

Not, his Madison Minutes job, rather, the one that paid him money and gave him health insurance.

Why would he do something wild like that? Well, because a person can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before getting completely flaming out. It was time to make a big decision and Sam chose Madison Minutes.

Starting in January, he will be the second full-time Madison Minutes employee, congrats Sam!

— Hayley

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Image via City of Madison

☃️ Have some fun in the snow (after the upcoming storm passes).

😷 How to get free Covid-19 tests.

  • From USPS: The US government is offering free home tests for every household, sent directly to your mailbox. Get yours here.
  • From the state: You can also get free test kits through the state-supported Say Yes COVID Test program. Each month, every Wisconsin household can order a testing kit that comes with five rapid tests. You can order those here.
  • From your insurance: If you have private health insurance, you can be reimbursed for up to eight Covid-19 tests a month.
  • From PHMDC: Public Health Madison and Dane County still provides free Covid-19 testing at its South Park Street location. Check out their hours and schedule an appointment here.

🏫 MMSD's verdict on the honors program.

  • At their meeting Monday, the Madison School Board voted to keep stand-alone honors courses for ninth and 10th graders, and expand earned honors opportunities throughout the district.
  • Some context: The push to end stand-alone honors courses is the result of years of discussions surrounding racial disparities within MMSD's honors program. Proponents of eliminating standalone honors classes have said the system creates segregated classrooms. Administrators suggested shifting honors attainment from designated classes to earned honors.
  • What does "earned honors" mean? The earned honors program allows students who are in general education classrooms to receive an honors designation on their transcripts by doing harder or extra assignments, without having to enroll in the honors version of a class. Essentially, bringing honors programming to students, rather than the other way around.
  • Related listen: Should Madison Schools Drop Honors Classes? (City Cast Madison)

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Photo via Dane County Sheriff's office

💰 County officials have new ideas for funding the jail consolidation project.

  • Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Sheriff Kalvin Barrett announced two new options for funding the long-stalled jail consolidation project.
  • One option would have supervisors vote on adding $13.5 million in unused capital to close the jail's funding gap. The motion would have to pass with a two-thirds vote, which could be a challenge given how divisive the project has been. The second option would put the same amount of funding to a referendum in the spring.
  • The timeline: If the board opts for the first option, it would have to approve (or reject) the funding before the project is put out for bids. If the board chooses to put the funding up to a referendum, it would have to do so at its Jan. 19 in order for it to be included on the April ballot.
  • If you'll recall: The county's Jail Consolidation Project aims to modernize the troubled building, which has a documented history of safety issues that affect both jail staff and residents. The project has faced setbacks in the form of community rejection and an ever-rising price tag.

📚 Your lunchtime listen: A year in books with A Room Of One’s Own Bookstore’s Gretchen Treu.

  • Via WORT: "As we come to the end of 2022, we are joined by co-owner of A Room on One’s Own, Gretchen Treu to look back at some of our favorite books. We talk about the store’s first full year in the new location and what it is like to run an independent book store."
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Watch out for weather
Morning update: Tuesday, Dec. 20