MADISON (WKOW) -- The focus is on the Madison school board race as the district works on how to best solve the achievement gap between white and minority students.
The four candidates met Wednesday night to make their case before the April 3 election.
It was last December when the school board voted down Madison Prep, a charter school designed to help low-achieving students in Madison schools.
The achievement gap between white and minority students is still the focus going into the race for two school board positions.
"We have some results that are like a lottery for minority students," Nichelle Nichols said.
Nichols with the Urban League of Greater Madison is running against incumbent Arlene Silveira.
Firefighter Michael Flores is up against former Trek bicycle executive Mary Burke to replace Lucy Mathiak.
While those seats are up for grabs, Superintendent Dan Nerad will soon learn whether the board will extend his contract past June 2013.
"I am concerned if we make a change in leadership at the superintendent's position at this time, it will put the clock backwards," Burke said.
A lot is riding on feedback on Nerad's proposal to bridge the racial achievement gap.
Nichols called it "a late-developed plan."
"One of my top priorities is to bring greater accountability on the achievement gap by bringing a critical eye on best practices and looking at evaluations and expected outcomes because this is personal for me," Nichols said.
"I've led the charge of proven initiatives to decrease the gap like 4-year-old kindergarten, early literacy interventions and extended learning summer school," Silveira said.
"I aim to bring everybody together and intertwine the programs that can help our kids," Flores said.
"We also have to be clear about what we want to accomplish. We've done that with the AVID/TOPS program. We have assessments and accountability built in, and guess what? We're hitting all targets we set out," Burke said.
A Madison school board evaluation last month rated Nerad as "barely proficient."
Board of Education President James Howard said the board is looking at voting on the superintendent's contract on Monday, before the election.
MADISON (WKOW) – Candidates for the Madison School Board will be at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Segoe Road at 7 p.m. for a forum on Wednesday.
The Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is sponsoring the event.
It is expected to last until 8:30 p.m.
People in the audience will get an opportunity to put forth questions to the four candidates.
The candidates include incumbent Arlene Silveira and Nichelle Nichols running for one seat, and Mary Burke challenging Michael Flores for a seat to replace outgoing board member Lucy Mathiak.
The election is April 3.
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