Commentary on a 2020 Madison School Board Candidate appearance

Logan Wroge:

Three candidates for an open Madison School Board seat aligned on several issues facing the school district while offering their own solutions to other topics during a forum Tuesday.

The trio seeking the board’s Seat 6 — Karen Ball, Christina Gomez Schmidt and Maia Pearson — spoke of rebuilding trust between the community and the Madison School District, identified areas they would cut in a funding shortage, and made their pitches before the Feb. 18 primary.

Ball, director of academic success at Edgewood College, said she wants to ensure an effective transition for the new superintendent and prepare the community for two potential referendums this fall.

Gomez Schmidt, director of enrichment for Galin Education, a college preparation and admissions assistance company, said her focuses include increasing transparency and ensuring schools are safe for students and teachers.

Pearson, a revenue agent for the state Department of Revenue, said some of her priorities would be finding ways to expand 4-year-old kindergarten to full-day and strengthening partnerships with businesses.

The top two vote-getters in the February primary will compete in the April 7 election for Seat 6, which is being vacated by incumbent Kate Toews. The term is three years.

Candidates were asked what they would do to fix a lack of transparency from the district some people perceive and how they would go about rebuilding the community’s trust.

Gomez Schmidt talked about making sure the board has enough time and information to analyze important decisions so it is not rushed. She also said information about new proposals should be given to the public in a more timely manner.

Pearson cited the recent community forums with the superintendent finalists as good examples of the board being transparent.

She also said groups like the district’s Black Excellence Coalition, which is largely made up of community members, are good outlets for people to share their thoughts.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.