Two political newcomers are facing off April 6 to represent Area V on the Middleton-Cross Plains School Board. The term is for three years.
Address: 4908 Winners Circle, Middleton
Family: Married with five children, ages 15, 13, 11, 8 and 6
Job: Hospital chief of staff and orthopedic surgeon, Prairie Ridge Hospital since 2015
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: Hospital board member, Prairie Ridge Health since January 2019; volunteer youth boys and girls coach, Middleton Basketball Club since 2015; volunteer youth boys coach, Middleton Football Club since 2015; medical honoree, Arthritis Foundation; Wisconsin Badgers football walk-on, 2000
Education: Bachelor’s degree, UW-Madison; medical degree, UW-Madison; orthopedic surgery residency, UCLA; chief resident; fellowship at Mayo Clinic; master of health care administration
Address: 8773 Airport Road, Middleton
Family: School-age sister, two school-age cousins
Job: Office manager
Prior elected office: None
Other public service: Youth leader, Madison Sikh Temple; trustee, Good Neighbor Festival; Partnership for Student Support and Success (MCPASD)
Education: Bachelor’s degree in environmental science, American University
Why should voters elect you and not your opponent?
Niesen: I am the proud father of five students in the district, from first grade to freshman. I bring significant value/experience as a doctor and board member. What sets me apart is my passion to work with children, my work ethic and my deep roots in this community. I have strong relationships with parents, teachers and the youth in our district.
Seerha: I bring a fresh perspective. As a recent graduate of MCPASD, I have faced and know the issues that occur in our schools today. My campaign is a grassroots effort that is supported by families in the area passionate about creating positive change. We have and will continue to bring residents to the table where they engage in decision-making.
What’s the most important issue in this election and how would you address it?
Niesen: Short-term: Return to in-person learning. I provide valuable experience as a medical doctor and would open our schools safely and efficiently. This would include vaccinations of teachers/staff, and continued analysis of data/published guidelines. Long-term: Develop an “individual plan for success” for each student after graduation. Students would pursue what they are passionate about: college, tech school, trades, military, etc.
Seerha: Besides the immediate concern of getting students safely back into schools as soon as possible, I am passionate about equity. Currently, our schools have disparities between racial and economic lines. Our district vision is “Inclusive, innovative and inspiring schools where every student thrives.” I will work to ensure this vision becomes a reality through effective policy change.
What new strategy would you pursue to close your district’s achievement gap?
Niesen: I would work to pursue equity within our district. Children may have an achievement gap for a number of reasons: poverty, language barrier, childhood trauma, learning disability, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and additional resources would be provided to meet the individual needs of our students.
Seerha: I would like to create a grassroots effort to provide students opportunities to succeed. The district is investing resources in equity initiatives, however, until families in the district become involved we will not see the progress we need. Working together, the MCPASD community can make larger strides to assure all students have a chance to not just survive, but thrive.