Kaleem Caire, an educational activist and the founder and CEO of One City Schools, is jumping into the Madison School Board race.
"I am running for School Board because I want children to be the number one priority in Dane County," Caire said in a statement. "They deserve to have 21st century schools that equip them for the future, and our teachers and school leaders need the support and tools to help our children succeed."
Caire is running for Seat 3, which is currently held by Dean Loumos, who is not seeking re-election this spring. District parent and former School Board candidate Cris Carusi announced at the beginning of the month that she was running for the seat as well.
David Blaska, a former Dane County Supervisor who had announced last week that he was running for Seat 3, said in a blog post on Monday that he would run for Seat 4 instead because of Caire's campaign for Seat 3.
Caire first ran for Seat 4 on the School Board in 1998, where he received 45 percent of the vote in a loss to Ray Allen.
“I’ve been working in the field ever since,” Caire said in an interview with the Cap Times. “The number one thing is that I’ve been really frustrated about how little attention is focused on young people in our city and country.”
One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is one of the state's first 4K and kindergarten charter options authorized by the University of Wisconsin's Office of Educational Opportunity.
Caire has deep roots in education. When he was CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison in 2010, he worked to submit a proposal to the Madison School District to charter Madison Preparatory Academy, a school for black boys in sixth through 12th grades. However, the School Board voted 5-2 against the charter proposal in Dec. 2011.
Caire dismissed the notion that he would have conflicts of interest because he runs a public charter school.
“There’s no conflict. We’re not chartered by the school district,” Caire said. “We’re chartered by the University of Wisconsin.”
Caire said he at one point considered running for mayor, but felt he could affect policy more directly as a member on the School Board.
“I keep telling my staff at One City that if the city was more focused on its children, then half of the pressure I feel in my job would dissipate,” Caire said. “We are constantly working an uphill battle to get people to pay attention to our kids.”
Caire said he's planning on building coalitions and bringing people together as his campaign unfolds.
"I will run a positive campaign, focusing on a collective vision to produce great educational opportunities for our children, with all deliberate speed," he said.
The seven-person School Board serves three-year terms. The deadline to file to run for a seat on the School Board is Jan. 2, 2019.