Madison’s Two New School Board Members

Andy Hall:

Marj Passman is so excited she ‘s having trouble sleeping.
Ed Hughes is sleeping just fine — so far, he adds with a chuckle.
Monday evening, Passman and Hughes will be sworn in as members of the Madison School Board. It will mark the first time either has held public office.
Their path to the board was easier than expected — both ran unopposed — and their arrival comes at an unusually quiet moment in Madison ‘s public school system. Thanks to a one-time windfall from special city of Madison taxing districts, the schools are averting budget cuts for the first time in 14 years.
But Passman, 66, a retired teacher, and Hughes, 55, a lawyer, know that by summer ‘s end the board will be deep into discussions about asking voters to approve millions of dollars in extra taxes to avoid budget cuts for coming years.
They ‘ve been doing their homework to join the board — an act that will become official with a ceremony at the board ‘s 5 p.m. meeting at the district ‘s headquarters, 545 W. Dayton St.
Passman and Hughes fill the seats held by retiring board members Carol Carstensen, the board ‘s senior member who gained detailed knowledge of issues while serving since 1990, and Lawrie Kobza, who developed a reputation for carefully scrutinizing the district ‘s operations during her single three-year term.

Related Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Few jobs are as difficult and thankless as serving on a local school board.
Just ask Lawrie Kobza and Carol Carstensen.
The two Madison School Board members chose not to seek re-election this spring after years of honorable and energetic service.
Their replacements — Ed Hughes and Marj Passman — were sworn in Monday evening.
The fact that no one in Madison, a city steeped in political activism, chose to challenge Hughes or Passman for the two open board seats suggests increasing wariness toward the rigors of the task.
The job comes with token pay, a slew of long meetings, frequent controversy and angry calls at home. On top of that, the state has put public schools into a vise of mandates and caps that virtually require unpopular board decisions.