To the editor:

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta. While he is acutely aware of the many challenges facing his big city, he doesn't get discouraged.

Part of his resilience as a leader comes from his willingness to work with others. While we were talking, he mentioned one of his favorite African proverbs: "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others." We spoke about ways to bring that collaborative approach to small towns. To Madison.

I've been lucky enough to learn from some of the top political and municipal minds in the country over the past few years and have yearned for leadership of that caliber in our city, but have been sorely disappointed time and time again. What we need now is not only vision, but leaders who are willing to work with others in order to get the job done.

I worry about our schools. The voters have demonstrated that the recent referendum wasn't the right plan for our community, but that doesn't mean our problems are going away. It's time we move on from the positions we all took and move forward together to craft a plan that can provide our school system with enough funding for desperately needed repairs until a referendum that's right for us can be passed.

This is where I believe a greater partnership between our city and schools is needed. For our great community to truly thrive, both City Hall and the Madison School Board must work together in order to provide the best possible opportunities for our children.

I would, then, propose for our community an initiative to enable TIF Zone dollars to flow to our schools in order to provide stopgap funding until Madison Consolidated Schools has found a responsible way to provide the new and renovated facilities we need.

The City of Madison was sitting on $4,174,989.52 from the TIF Zone at the end of 2013. Rather than allocating half-a-million dollars towards enhancing our railroad for passenger capability or spending one and a half million dollars to build Julie Berry Way, let's put those dollars to work in a way that provides immediate and guaranteed benefits for our community: maintaining our schools and establishing a generation of Madisonians who are proud not only of their education and school, but of the way in which their leaders rose to the challenge of building a brighter future for us all.

I challenge Mayor Damon Welch, the Madison Redevelopment Commission, and the Madison School Board to work together to make this a reality. Zionsville recently found a way to move TIF dollars to their schools and Chicago routinely uses TIF dollars for education projects - why can't we? Let's be the example of effective, forward thinking government and innovative education that I know Madison can be. I've had enough of kicking the can down the road. Isn't it time we turned into the fire and tackled our toughest problems?

Patrick Thevenow