Dean Loumos wins final Madison School Board seat after Wayne Strong concedes race

Matthew DeFour:

Low-income housing provider and former teacher Dean Loumos will join the Madison School Board later this month after his opponent in a very close race conceded Tuesday.
Retired Madison Police Lt. Wayne Strong said the 278-vote margin, or about 0.76 percent of the total vote, was not close enough to justify a recount.
Loumos’ victory margin decreased by one vote from the original total after nearly 200 absentee ballots were counted.
A recent change in state law that allows absentee ballots to come in after Election Day has made it harder to know the winner immediately in close races. There were more than 1,300 absentee ballots that hadn’t come into the Madison City Clerk’s Office by election night, but not all were returned by the Friday deadline.
State law allows a candidate to seek a recount at no cost if the margin is 0.5 percent of the total vote or less. Strong said if the absentee ballots had closed the margin to that level, he might have sought a recount.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison school board candidates Dean Loumos and Wayne Strong discuss charter schools, teacher evaluation

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s 0 between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 3, former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos is running against retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong. The winner will replace retiring school board member Beth Moss.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
This week, we ask the candidates about charter schools, whether they’d like to see their expansion in the district, and if so, how they should operate within the district. Another question focuses on teacher evaluation, and how the candidates think it should be conducted with regards to student test scores.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections, here.

Madison school board candidates Wayne Strong and Dean Loumos discuss superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, collective bargaining

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 3, former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos is running against retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong. The winner will replace retiring school board member Beth Moss.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
This week, we ask the candidates about where they think incoming superintendent Jennifer Cheatham should direct her attention. We also ask about the changes in collective bargaining wrought by Act 10: How have they affected the district, and how should it respond to this new policy?

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison school board candidates Dean Loumos and Wayne Strong discuss why they are running, the achievement gap

Isthmus:

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 3, former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos is running against retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong. The winner will replace retiring school board member Beth Moss.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates. We start by asking the candidates about their experience, and how they would address the achievement gap in the district.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison School Board members split on proposed 7.4% property tax hike

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School Board’s two newest members are voicing the strongest support for a potential 7.4 percent property tax increase, but others worry the amount may be too high.
The property tax increase was included in a preliminary $393 million budget proposal put together by school district administrators.
The amount reflects the maximum amount the district could raise property taxes under Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget proposal.
T.J. Mertz and Dean Loumos, who were sworn in Monday, said they don’t oppose taxing the maximum amount allowed under state revenue limits, which as proposed would add about $182 to the average $230,831 Madison home’s property tax bill.
Mertz plans to advocate for taxing the maximum amount, though he questioned some of the proposed new spending, such as whether a community partnership coordinator needed to be an administrative position costing $128,000.

Related: 2010: Madison School District 2010-2011 Budget Update: $5,100,000 Fund Balance Increase since June, 2009; Property Taxes to Increase 9+%.
Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.

Was race a big issue in too-close-to-call Madison School Board election?

Pat Schnieder:

The election night parties ran late Tuesday night at The Fountain bar downtown and Badger Bowl on the south side as supporters of Madison School Board candidates Dean Loumos and Wayne Strong waited for the results in what turned out to be a very tight race.
There was a good-sized, lively crowd at each of the parties making plenty of noise, but one thing I couldn’t help but notice is that the Fountain crowd was predominately white, like Loumos, and the Badger Bowl crowd was predominately African-American, like Strong.
The significance of that is up for debate, but this much is clear: Race was very much an issue in this School Board election. And candidates of every stripe identified the embarrassing race-based achievement gap as the most pressing issue facing the district.
The results of the Seat 3 match-up between Loumos and Strong won’t be known until next week. Loumos held a 279-vote margin with all wards reporting early Wednesday, but Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell told the Wisconsin State Journal that there were potentially hundreds of absentee ballots yet to be counted.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison progressive political machine hands Scott Walker another school victory

David Blaska:

Congratulations to Madison’s white power elite, especially to Democrats, organized labor, John Matthews and his teachers union. You very well may have elected a teachers union-first (“Collectively we decide …”), children second school board. You also just handed Scott Walker a powerful case for expanding private school vouchers.
What are you afraid of? That more parents might not choose the taxpayer-coerced public school monopoly? What do you expect, when you leave them no (ahem) … choice.
I would like to hold out hope that absentee ballots will make the difference, but 279 votes is probably too many for Wayne Strong to overcome to defeat Dean Loumos, who holds an 18,286 to 18,007 lead. If there are 1,333 absentee ballots that need to be counted, as the city clerk’s website advertises, Strong would have to beat Loumos 806 to 527 in those uncounted votes.
(BTW: Is this the new normal? As absentee voting becomes more popular, winners won’t be declared for a week after the election?)

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

2013 Madison School Board Election Updates





Pat Schneider:

The results of the Seat 3 match-up between Loumos and Strong won’t be known until next week. Loumos held a 279-vote margin with all wards reporting early Wednesday, but Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell told the Wisconsin State Journal that there were potentially hundreds of absentee ballots yet to be counted.
The shocking withdrawal just after the Seat 5 primary of Sarah Manski, the candidate of the local progressive establishment, pushed third place finisher, Latina Ananda Mirilli, off the ballot and set up a disturbing tension between the local progressive community and communities of color. Kaleem Caire, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and architect of the controversial Madison Preparatory Academy, used the occasion to resurrect some of the divisive stands around the proposed charter school for African-American students that was rejected in 2011 by the School Board.
Loumos, in addition to backing from unions like Madison Teachers Inc, AFSCME and South Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, also boasted an array of the progressive endorsements that usually win races in Madison: Progressive Dane, Four Lakes Green Party, Fair Wisconsin PAC.
But he insisted Tuesday that that tension between progressives and communities of color wasn’t a factor in his race, in part because he doesn’t have the profile for it.
Loumos has worked for decades with people struggling at the edges of society, many of them black and Latino. Currently executive director of a nonprofit agency that provides housing for homeless people, he used to teach in Madison School District programs for kids who were faltering.

Matthew DeFour

But the race between Dean Loumos, executive director of Housing Initiatives Inc., and retired Madison Police lieutenant Wayne Strong remained too close to call.
Loumos held a 279-vote margin with all wards reporting, but Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said there were potentially hundreds of absentee ballots yet to be counted. Those won’t all be counted by the canvassing board until next Tuesday, due to a recent change in state law, McDonell said.
Strong said he would wait to make a decision about whether to seek a recount. Loumos said he respected Strong’s position and he didn’t declare victory.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison School Board Candidates Discuss Redistributed State Tax Dollars & Voucher Schools

Isthmus

Five candidates are competing for three seats on the Madison school board, with the general election on April 2, 2013.
The political context for the races is explosive, given Gov. Scott Walker’s revolutionary proposals for education in Wisconsin: cuts to public school funding, an expansion of the voucher program, and a revamping of teachers’ evaluations and bargaining rights.
In Madison, the issues are particularly complex, with the intense disagreements over the district’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
In the race for Seat 4, incumbent James Howard is running against Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide.
In this competitive series of elections, there are numerous candidate forums and listening sessions under way, and we thought we’d pose our own questions to candidates.
For this fourth and final week of questions, we ask candidates to evaluate Gov. Scott Walker’s proposals for the Wisconsin’s 2013-15 budget, and consider how it would impact schools in the state. Along similar lines, we ask candidates to share their thoughts on the proposal to expand voucher schools in Wisconsin.

Wayne Strong and Dean Loumos (Isthmus) TJ Mertz (Isthmus).

Madison School Board candidate says response to union’s voucher question an error

Matthew DeFour

Madison School Board candidate Wayne Strong said Friday he mistakenly told Madison Teachers Inc.’s political action committee in a January questionnaire that he supported private school vouchers.
The issue of voucher support has loomed large in this spring’s election. Ananda Mirilli, a former candidate for a separate seat, was falsely accused of supporting vouchers in an email from the husband of her opponent, Sarah Manski, who dropped out of the race after winning the primary. Mirilli finished third and will not be on the April 2 ballot.
The South Central Federation of Labor sent out a campaign flier this week supporting Strong’s opponent Dean Loumos. The flier says Strong “has retracted an earlier statement that he supports the use of public funds for private and religious schools.”
“I didn’t retract it, I corrected it,” Strong said. “It’s always been my position that I did not support use of public money (for private voucher schools).”

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board elections, here.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison School Board Endorsements

Wisconsin State Journal:

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board interviewed — in person — 20 candidates for the City Council and four for Madison School Board. Every candidate deserves praise for giving voters a choice.
Yet the candidates pictured below are best prepared to tackle local challenges, including a dismal graduation rate for minority students and the need for a stronger economy and more jobs.
Seat 3
Wayne Strong will bring urgency to narrowing the achievement gap for minority students in Madison schools, while insisting on high standards for all. A father of two Madison graduates and an active community volunteer, Strong served on the strategic committee that prioritized the gap for action. Strong promises more accountability for results, starting with the new superintendent. He also wants to improve the school climate for minority families to encourage more involvement. A retired police officer, he’s well versed on effective strategies for reducing conflicts in schools that often lead to suspensions — “the genesis of the problem.” Strong’s opponent, Dean Loumos, is impressive, too. But Strong seems more willing to try new strategies for success.
Seat 4
James Howard likes to focus on school data to inform board decisions, rather than relying on assumptions or bowing to political pressure. The longtime economist and father of Madison students doesn’t go along to get along. Yet his peers elected him board president, and he played a big role in hiring incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Howard expects action toward better results for struggling students. He wants to hire more minority educators and let key staff work flexible hours to better engage parents. Unlike his opponent, Greg Packnett, Howard cites concern for the burden property taxes place on older homeowners. A legislative aide at the Capitol, Packnett shows promise. But Howard’s experience makes him the clear choice.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Race a Factor in the 2013 Madison School Board Election? I believe it is more of a “class” and/or “we know best” issue

Matthew DeFour (and many others):

That led minority leaders to complain about the perceived control white Madison liberals — including teachers union leaders — exert on elections and on efforts meant to raise minority student achievement. Some local leaders have undertaken soul-searching while others say more minorities need to seek elective office.
“You could not have constructed a scenario to cause more alienation and more mistrust than what Sarah Manski did,” longtime local political observer Stuart Levitan said, referring to the primary winner for seat 5. “It exposed an underlying lack of connection between some of the progressive white community and the progressive African-American community that is very worrisome in the long run.”
In the last few weeks:

  • Urban League of Greater Madison president Kaleem Caire in a lengthy email described the failed negotiations involving him, district officials and Madison Teachers Inc. executive director John Matthews over Caire’s proposed Madison Preparatory Academy geared toward low-income minority students.
  • Ananda Mirilli, who placed third behind Manski for seat 5, released emails in which Sarah Manski’s husband, Ben Manski, accused Caire of recruiting Mirilli to run for School Board and linking Caire to a conservative foundation. Caire confirmed the email exchange, but said he didn’t recruit Mirilli. The Manskis did not respond to requests for comment.
  • Two School Board members, Mary Burke and Ed Hughes, vigorously backed former police lieutenant Wayne Strong, who is black, to counter the influence of political groups supporting his opponent. In the seat 3 race, Strong faces Dean Loumos, a low-income housing provider supported by MTI, the Dane County Democratic Party, Progressive Dane and the local Green Party.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

Commentary on the 2013 Madison School Board Races

John Nichols:

As The Capital Times prepares to make endorsements in Madison School Board races that will be decided April 2, our editorial board will ponder issues ranging from the reactions of candidates to Gov. Walker’s voucher plan, the achievement gap and the challenge of maintaining quality schools in a time of funding cuts and shortfalls.
Our editorial board will make endorsements in two contested races, for Seat 3 between former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, and for Seat 4 between incumbent James Howard and challenger Greg Packnett, a legislative aide. The candidates all have strengths, and present voters with distinct options.
In the third race, there isn’t really a race. Candidates TJ Mertz and Sarah Manski won the primary Feb. 19. Then Manski surprised the community by dropping out of the contest several days later — announcing that her husband has been admitted to graduate school in California and that she would not be able to finish a term. We didn’t editorialize about the primary race. But after Manski dropped out, we said she had done the right thing because it would have been entirely inappropriate to maintain a campaign for a term she could not complete. But, as a board, we were disappointed by the loss of competition and urged the candidate who finished third in the primary, Ananda Mirilli, to make a bid as a write-in contender.
Mirilli made a great impression during the primary race and, had she waged a write-in campaign, she would have done so as an innovative thinker about how best to make great public schools work for all students. As the parent of an elementary-school student and a big proponent of public education, I’m familiar with a number of the people who organized Mirilli’s primary campaign, and who would have supported a write-in run. They form an old-fashioned grass-roots group that recalls the sort of organizations that traditionally backed School Board candidates in Madison. They could have mounted a fine campaign. But I also respect Mirilli’s decision not to run. The race would have been expensive and difficult. We’ve spoken several times, before the primary and since, and I’m convinced Mirilli’s voice will remain a vital one in local and state education debates. There’s a good chance she will eventually join the School Board, just as current board member Marj Passman was elected a year after she lost a close race to another current School Board member, Maya Cole.
Unfortunately, with Mirilli out of the running, the Seat 5 race is an uncontested one. That’s focused a good deal of attention on Manski, who I’ve known since she was writing for the Daily Cardinal on the University of Wisconsin campus. Among the several boards I have served on over the years, including those of the media reform group Free Press and Women in Media and News, I’ve been on the board of the reform group Liberty Tree, for which Manski has done fundraising work. Manski’s husband, Ben, worked for Liberty Tree before he left to manage Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s presidential run.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board Elections, here.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

“I’ve been frustrated with the fact that our educational system continues to go downhill even with all the money the Legislature puts into it,” he said.
Pridemore said he will release more details about his educational agenda in forthcoming policy statements and has several education bills in the drafting phase. Asked if he believed schools should have armed teachers, he said that was a matter that should be left entirely to local school boards to decide.
Evers, who has been school superintendent since 2009, is seeking a second term. He has previously served as a teacher, principal, local school superintendent and deputy state schools superintendent.
Wisconsin’s education landscape has undergone some major changes during his tenure, including significant reductions in school spending and limits on collective bargaining for public workers that weakened teachers unions, which have supported Evers in the past.
Evers wants to redesign the funding formula that determines aid for each of Wisconsin’s 424 school districts and to provide more aid to schools. Also, he wants to reinvigorate technical education and to require all high schools to administer a new suite of tests that would offer a better way to track students’ academic progress and preparation for the ACT college admissions exam.

Don Pridemore links: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming. Incumbent Tony Evers: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming.
Matthew DeFour:

School Board president James Howard, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, faces a challenge from Greg Packnett, a legislative aide active with the local Democratic Party. The seats are officially nonpartisan.
Two candidates, low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and recently retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, are vying for Moss’ seat.
The race for Cole’s seat will include a primary on Feb. 19, the first one for a Madison School Board seat in six years. The candidates are Sarah Manski, a Green Party political activist who runs a website that encourages buying local; Ananda Mirilli, social justice coordinator for the YWCA who has a student at Nuestro Mundo Community School; and T.J. Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger whose children attend West High and Randall Elementary schools.

School Board president James Howard faces challenger

Matthew DeFour:

Madison School Board president James Howard has drawn an opponent setting up the likelihood of three races for the spring election.
Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide, has filed paperwork to run for Howard’s seat. Howard has yet to file, but tells me he plans to do so by the Jan. 2 deadline.
Dean Loumos, executive director of low-income housing provider Housing Initiatives, and Wayne Strong, a retiring Madison police lieutenant, have filed to run for the seat being vacated by Beth Moss.
Adam Kassulke, a former Milwaukee teacher whose daughter attends Shabazz High School, and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice coordinator with YWCA Madison and a Nuestro Mundo parent, have filed to run for the seat being vacated by Maya Cole.
One other update: State Rep. Kelda Roys and disability rights attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, who previously said they were thinking about running, have decided not to run.

Madison School Board election starting to take shape

Matthew DeFour:

The upcoming Madison School Board election is drawing plenty of interest from potential candidates, including at least two who say they definitely will run for an open seat.
Dean Loumos, executive director of low-income housing provider Housing Initiatives, and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice program coordinator at YWCA Madison, both told me they plan to run no matter who else jumps in the race.
Several others, including state Rep. Kelda Roys, Edgewood College history professor T.J. Mertz, Democratic legislative aide Greg Packnett and attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick all told me they are considering a run.
Interest in the School Board election has grown since Beth Moss announced she would not seek a third term. Some are waiting until Maya Cole makes a decision about a third term before committing one way or the other.

Madison schools’ new policy on unpaid meals: Lots of carrots, no stick

Chris Rickert: The Madison School District has decided to stop telling children with overdrawn meal accounts that they can’t have the same meals the district gives to children of parents who are keeping up with their bills and to children who are enrolled in the free and subsidized lunch program. Providing overdrawn children with a […]