President Barack Obama will visit a Madison middle school today to speak about his proposals for improvement of education in the nation.
In preparation for the visit to Wright Middle School, several agencies in the city have coordinated their efforts to ensure the visit goes smoothly, said Rachel Strauch-Nelson, spokesperson for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
Joel Plant, assistant to Cieslewicz, said numerous police officers, traffic engineers and fire departments have been called on for service, with some of those workers receiving overtime pay.
“We won’t know the total costs of the visit until several days after,” Plant said. “Certainly some staff will be on overtime, but there are currently no estimates.”
Strauch-Nelson said the city is honored to have a visit from Obama and is more than prepared to make the event run smoothly.
Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said there will be a considerable number of police officers working to help monitor roadways.
“We are working hand-in-hand with teams from the Secret Service in planning the motorcade route,” DeSpain said. “The most significant impact will be in terms of traffic.”
DeSpain added the stretch of Fish Hatchery Road from Wingra Drive to Carver Street will be closed down between noon and 3 p.m. today because Wright Middle Schoolis located on Fish Hatchery Road.
Gov. Jim Doyle said in a statement released Tuesday the state is pleased to be hosting the president. He said the visit highlights how much stimulus funding has saved schools from making devastating cuts.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act kept thousands of teachers in our classrooms during one of the greatest economic crises our country has ever experienced,” Doyle said in the statement. “Even in the places where our classrooms are working well, we can do a lot better, and President Obama is committing the resources for states willing to lead the way.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said DPW is very excited for the visit and glad Obama chose to spotlight his education plans. He added because this is a federal visit, DPW has played a minor role, but he said he will meet Obama at some point in the visit.
Coincidentally, Obama’s visit falls on the same day Mark Halperin, a TIME magazine editor-at-large and senior political analyst, is coming to the University of Wisconsin to review the progress of the president since the election.
Halperin said his event, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Pyle Center, has been scheduled for months and the coinciding visits were “happenstance.”
“We should look forward, but we also need to look back, so I will review [Obama's] record so far in terms of what he said he’d do before election and the unexpected things that have come up and predict what will happen with health care and global warming,” Halperin said.
Halperin added he will be attending the Obama speech today and may incorporate some of the speech into his lecture, depending on Obama’s talking points.