While Madison's mayoral and aldermanic elections may have grabbed the most attention, the races for Madison's school board could the most far-reaching consequences for the city and its families.
Though two new faces were added to the board after the polls closed on Apr. 3, the general composition of the body remained static, with the two major factions each losing and gaining a member.
Beth Moss defeated Rick Thomas for Seat 3 (each having moved past the Feb. 20 primary election which also included Pam Cross-Leone as a candidate). Incumbent Johnny Winston, Jr. successfully defended his seat (and position as board president) to a challenge from Tom Brew for Seat 4. Finally, returning candidate Maya Cole defeated Marj Passman in a close and hotly-contested battle for Seat 5.
Coverage by Isthmus and The Daily Page of this spring's Madison mayoral elections follows:
- Mandate for new thinking: Agonizing school budget hearings show need for change
- Cake and more at election night parties for the Madison school board
- Blame for the media: MTI points to inadequate coverage as a reason for Passman's defeat
- Snapshot results for the spring 2007 election in Dane County
- Live-blogging the spring 2007 general election in Madison: Results!
- Live-blogging the spring 2007 general election in Madison: Vote
- Chad Vader meets Mayor Dave and Maya Cole
- Balance of power could shift with school board election
- Summarizing the results for the spring primary election
- Live-blogging the 2007 spring primary election in Madison
- Spring elections could bring new directions
Isthmus and The Daily Page also conducted a weekly series about the elections named "Take Home Test," in which the candidates respond to two or three questions about the state of Madison's schools and their plans for
managing the district. This series follows:
- Isthmus reported this week on the Madison school district's decision in 2003 to reject a plan to partner with Madison's early-childhood providers to offer citywide 4-year-old kindergarten. Would you support such a proposal if it were revived?
- Would you support a referendum to authorize spending to avoid school consolidation on the east side and to fund smaller class sizes and such programs as elementary school strings and talented and gifted education?
- Here's your last pitch: In 50 or less words, tell us why the Madison school board would be improved by your presence.
- Week Ten
- In 1991, one in five students in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) came from low-income families, as defined by eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch. Today, the district's low-income population is at 41%. These kids frequently do poorly in school. What are the most important things the schools can do to help them perform better academically?
- To one degree or another, there appears to be middle-class flight from the Madison schools, which, in turn, drives-up the percentage of poor kids in certain schools. What can the school district do to keep middle-class families committed to the Madison schools?
- Okay, what are your five favorite CDs (or recording artists) of all time?
- Week Nine
- What do you think of Supt. Art Rainwater's proposal to close the shortfall in the 2007-08 budget? Do you, for example, support his plan to consolidate east-side schools?
- Name three areas of the district budget where you think sizable cuts should be made and explain why.
- Which living political figure do you admire the most and why? (in 25 words or less).
- Week Eight
- Isthmus' cover story this week addressed the rise of "disconnected youth" in our community -- kids who aren't in school, who don't have jobs and who don't have supportive families to help them. These kids often get in trouble. Is there more that Madison schools can do to address their needs before they drop out?
- Our schools, says former county executive Jonathan Barry, do well with motivated, college-bound students, but are increasingly failing students who don't see college in their future. Do you agree or disagree with his assessment that the Madison schools should be doing more with vocational education, and why?
- Week Seven
- Where and how should the Madison school district focus its efforts on reducing the achievement gap -- during the elementary, middle or high school years?
- By most accounts, closing the achievement gap will require more than an educational response. What else needs to be done?
- What is your favorite children's book or book series?
- Week Six
- Serving on the school board will require you to work collectively with six other board members. Tell us how you operate in a group setting. How much value to you put on consensus? When is it appropriate to be the lonely voice of dissent? What role so you see yourself playing on the board?
- Week Five
- What role do you see school board members playing in curriculum decisions?
- What extracurricular activities do you recommend that students consider?
- Week Four
- Imagine that you are the featured speaker at an 8th grade graduation of a Madison middle school. Briefly, what is the substance of your message?
- What civic, educational or religious involvement has given you the most satisfaction as a volunteer?
- Week Three
- Tell us how a teacher changed your life in a large or small way.
- Some parents feel the Madison schools are unsafe. What do you say to those parents?
- Week Two
- What do you see as the strong and weak points of Art Rainwater's term as superintendent?
- What qualities do you want to see in the new superintendent?
- What was your favorite movie of 2006 and why?
- Week One
- Tell us what in your background best prepares you to serve on the Madison school board?
- Why are you running for such a thankless job where no matter what you do a portion of the electorate will always be furious over your position?