Beth Moss was a little worried when she decided not to run for reelection for the Madison school board next spring.
In the last election, she says, it seemed as though "people weren't that interested in signing up to run. What happens if no one runs?"
But her fears have since been allayed. So far, eight candidates have declared for three seats on the board, with half of them running for one seat.
"It seems to go in a cycle. There's a lull and then people get interested again," Moss says, adding, "I feel confident the next board will be really strong."
Dean Loumos, head of Housing Initiatives, and Wayne Strong, a retired police officer, are running for Moss' seat. Gregory Packnett, an aide to state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton), will challenge James Howard, the current board president and only incumbent running.
And at least four people will run for the seat now held by Maya Cole, who is not running for reelection: Adam Kassulke, a former Milwaukee teacher; Sarah Manski, an activist and entrepreneur; Thomas Mertz, an Edgewood College professor who blogs about schools at AMPS; and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice coordinator with YWCA Madison.
The deadline to submit nomination papers is Jan. 2, after Isthmus' press deadline.
School board vice president Marj Passman, who is not up for reelection, says the interest in the board is due to a number of high-profile issues, including charter schools, funding, the achievement gap, building maintenance and the search for a new superintendent. She says each of these issues has brought about a "side A and a side B," with the sides squaring off. "We're seeing that in the election now."