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Madison School Board races unopposed this spring
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Madison School Board races unopposed this spring

Castro Pearson

Savion Castro, left, and Maia Pearson are running unopposed for the two Madison School Board seats up for election this spring.

The two Madison School Board seats on the April ballot are uncontested races.

One year after six candidates ran for three seats, this year there are two for two: Maia Pearson, a runner-up from 2020, for Seat 1 and Savion Castro for Seat 2. No other candidates filed nomination papers by the initial Tuesday deadline, according to the Madison City Clerk’s website.

The clerk shared that the deadline for Seat 1 is extended to 5 p.m. Friday, however, as incumbent Gloria Reyes did not file her declaration of non-candidacy, though she announced in December she would not run for re-election.

Both Pearson and Castro are graduates of the Madison Metropolitan School District — Pearson from West and Castro from La Follette.

Last year, Pearson was one of three candidates for Seat 6, which Kate Toews vacated by not running for re-election. She was the top vote-getter in the February primary, but lost to Christina Gomez Schmidt in the general election by 3.7%.

[Madison School District, Madison Teachers Inc. settle over union’s complaints from last year]

Pearson’s campaign focused on equity and how to help parents, including the importance of full-day 4-year-old kindergarten, a program the district will pilot beginning next year. A mother of three, she spoke about the importance of community partnerships and academic rigor last year.

Her December campaign announcement pointed to the difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has “made very clear the reality of our education system.”

“During these uncertain times, it is integral that the Madison School Board work through this crisis by not only mitigating the effects of the pandemic at hand but by championing education thoroughly,” she wrote. “This is new and uneven terrain, and one that will require partnership, grace, and a steadfast commitment to fighting for our schools and our children. It is a hard climb ahead, but one I’m certain we can do together.”

She will succeed Reyes in Seat 1. Reyes, currently serving as the board president, announced last month she would not run for re-election as she takes on a new executive director position at Briarpatch.

Castro is running for the second time since he was appointed to an open seat in July 2019, which had been vacated earlier in the year with Mary Burke’s resignation. He ran unopposed for a one-year term last year to complete Burke’s term.

Throughout his tenure so far, he has stressed the importance of student voice and was a strong advocate for the referenda last fall.

[2020 was a year of change, both sudden and expected, in Madison's local schools]

Both Pearson and Castro are running for three-year terms on the board.

In the coming years, the board will oversee the implementation of the two referenda voters approved in November, help navigate the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of virtual learning and outline priorities for superintendent Carlton Jenkins, who began in August.

The spring general election is April 6.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.

Related to this story

The University of Wisconsin-Madison epidemiologist has spoken with us multiple times this year to share her insights on the pandemic. Now, nearly through the first semester, the Madison Metropolitan School District is approaching a decision on whether to remain virtual or return some students for in-person learning in late January. Jones reached out to the Cap Times to share her thoughts.