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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Overcast
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Madison schools achievement gap plan will progress without Nerad

When schools superintendent Dan Nerad announced Monday that he plans to resign in 2013 when his contract runs out, one question rose to the top of the heap: What will this mean for his recently announced proposal to address the minority achievement gap?

Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, says the plans should be shelved until a leader experienced in addressing minority achievement gap issues is hired.

"It isn't a plan yet, it is a list of ideas of things that can be done, and those ideas will have to be carried forward by the next administrator if they feel these are the best ideas," says Caire, whose proposal for a single-sex charter school for minorities was rejected in December by the Madison school board. "The school board shouldn't be involved in deciding what the plan is without the leader."

School board president James Howard and board member Marj Passman have a different take. They think the plan will remain on course now that the community has provided the feedback the district needs to move forward.

"What people need to know is that we're pretty much done compiling all of the input from the public, which is the hard part," says Howard.

Passman agrees that there's a sense of urgency around the plan.

"It will definitely go forward," she says. "The board believes in it. We will study it and continue it. The achievement plan is much too important. There's a tremendous amount of community input, and that's the best thing that's happened in this district. The statewide urgency has become citywide, and we're going to be tapping into that completely."

All four candidates for school board approve of the plan, though some would like a scaled-back version.

Will Nerad, who could not be reached for comment, become a lame duck or forge ahead as the district's leader to the end?

"He won't sit in his office and watch the clouds," says Howard. "He will continue to work with the board, continue in the capacity that he's always served while he's here."

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