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Officially one contested race for Madison School Board – The Capital Times

A “Vote” sign points voters to the Madison Fire Department Station 14 polling place on Election Day in Madison on Nov. 8, 2022.

K-12 education reporter
K-12 education reporter
A “Vote” sign points voters to the Madison Fire Department Station 14 polling place on Election Day in Madison on Nov. 8, 2022.
Madison Metropolitan School District voters officially have one contested School Board election on the April ballot.
After Tuesday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline, former MMSD educator Blair Feltham and former Madison City County candidate Badri Lankella are both on the ballot for Seat 6. Christina Gomez Schmidt, who currently holds the seat, is not running for reelection.
Incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen will run for reelection to Seat 7, but has no challenger on the ballot.
That means April will be the third straight Madison School Board election with at least one uncontested race on the ballot. In the 2022 spring election, which featured three School Board seats, there was one contested race and a second with a write-in campaign launched after the deadline to get a name on the ballot. In 2021, both seats up for election featured a single candidate.
Lankella filed for the seat first in early December. He previously lost to Donna Moreland in the 2019 City Council race for District 7. In a Cap Times Q&A at that time, Lankella brought up two school-related issues among those he believed were the biggest facing Madison and his aldermanic district.
Bus stop safety for kids was “becoming increasingly concerning in our district,” he wrote at the time.
“Getting to and from the school bus stop is becoming more dangerous to our kids these days with speeding vehicles and earlier school hours,” Lankella wrote, recommending installing a pedestrian call button and flashing crosswalk signals to improve safety.
He also mentioned the importance of “building a competitive school system from elementary school level.”
Lankella, a computer engineer, suggested enhancing advanced learning programs such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, and cited his experience working with a local elementary school as a coach in various STEM programs and getting involved with other school groups.
“Working with these organizations and creating more competitive, coherent and creative programs will help enhance our kids’ competitiveness beyond our school, city, state and nation,” he wrote.
Feltham, who is now the equitable multi-level system of supports coordinator in the Sun Prairie Area School District, announced her candidacy the day after Gomez Schmidt announced she would not run again.
In her announcement on Facebook, Feltham pointed to her eight years of experience in MMSD, including a few months as a special education assistant at Elvehjem Elementary School and seven years as a teacher, coordinator and coach at West High School.
“What I’m trying to say is I know something about how schools actually work, I know something about how MMSD actually works — and not in a theoretical way,” she wrote. “Applied, classroom and building-level understanding of school is so important for making good decisions, and it’s something the BOE has lacked and MMSD leadership has refused to respect.”
She wrote that “happier, healthier schools” can be achieved through class size limits, protected planning time, creative curriculum and collaborative processes that value student and staff voice. She believes “teaching and learning is complex, uncertain, intellectual and interpersonal work.”
“It’s juicy, life-giving, and cannot be mechanized. And don’t get me wrong — I love data, love a spreadsheet, love a thinking routine, love a continuous improvement process,” she wrote. “But I am appalled by the ease with which MMSD has been willing to capitulate to the worst instincts of data mining, capitalistic efficiency, standardization, and false ‘accountability.’”
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