Test time for Madison school board candidates James Howard and Tom Farley

Lynn Welch:

Madison voters will soon be put to a test, perhaps one of the more important ones they’ve faced in recent years. On April 6, they’ll get to decide who will fill an open seat on the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education during its biggest financial crisis.
It’s apt, then, that the opposing candidates — James Howard and Tom Farley — also be put to the test. We gave them a series of essay questions on a range of pertinent topics, from how they’d cut the school budget to challenges they’ve faced with their own children in Madison schools.
Their answers, lightly edited for length and style, follow.
Isthmus: What are two specific programs you would suggest cutting or policies you would suggest changing due to ongoing budget challenges, and why?
Howard: In Wisconsin, for 17 years, since 1993, we have had a school funding plan that caps a school district’s annual revenue increase at 2.1%, although the actual cost to run a school district has averaged 4% during those years. Secondly, the state of Wisconsin is supposed to pay two-thirds of the cost of schools. This has never happened. So I’d suggest lifting the revenue caps and legislating complete state funding of public education.
Farley: Certainly, the state’s funding formulas and current economic cycles have had a major effect on this current budget crisis. However, budget challenges will be “ongoing” until the district addresses our own systemic issues. Policies regarding talented and gifted students should be based on national best practices. We should also address length of school year and school day, which are far too limiting and lag other countries.

2 thoughts on “Test time for Madison school board candidates James Howard and Tom Farley”

  1. I think neither Beth Moss, James Howard, nor Tom Farley are adequately informed about the problems in MMSD. Beth is only concerned with special ed – how democratic is that? It is a sorry state for MMSD that she will be reelected – reminds me of the foolishness we demonstrated in reelecting George Bush. And Howard and Farley do not really have a sense (nor seem to care about) the lack of academic challenge in many of the schools. Neither were aware that one of the top reasons given in the MMSD survey for why families leave was inadequate academic challenge for those who need it.
    This is very disappointing.
    I am going to write in Elmer Fud and Mr. Ed for those 2 seats. If they get elected they can’t be any more impotent at addressing academic needs than these candidates.

  2. Disappointed,
    I feel your pain. I attended a recent candidate forum and wasn’t impressed by any of the candidates in attendance. Certainly the BoE is a thankless and overwhelming job, and that impacts who is willing to subject themselves to the indignities of the position, but it would be nice to have some candidates with more ability and potential.

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