Varied backgrounds and reasons for running brought together all three candidates for the Sun Prairie School Board for a recent Sun Prairie School Board Candidates Forum currently airing on KSUN and ksun.tv.
Incumbent Bryn Horton joins challengers Alwyn Foster and Becky McCright in seeking election to two seats on the Sun Prairie School Board during the April 6 election.
Candidates answered a wide variety of questions during the forum, which is airing on demand in the “Talk of the Town” portion of KSUN’s On Demand Video menu at ksun.tv. Questions ranged from how each candidate would have handled the Patrick Marsh slavery activity aftermath differently to why they believed they were the better candidate to be elected to the board over their opponents. The 1 hour and 51 minute forum also included a portion where each candidate had the opportunity to ask one of their opponents a question.
Regarding their backgrounds, Horton has two children in the Sun Prairie Area School District — one in elementary school and the other at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School. “I’ve been lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years . . . and almost 11 years ago now, we moved to Sun Prairie from Illinois — the Chicago suburbs,” Horton said.
Horton served as president and vice president of the Eastside Elementary parent group, and president of the parent group at Patrick Marsh Middle School before she was elected to the school board as well as boundary task forces and school space planning committees.
Since being elected to the board, Horton has served on different commissions as a school board liaison, the Police Chief’s Advisory Commission, and serves as vice president of the Anti Bullying Collaborative.
During the 10 years Horton has lived in Sun Prairie, the district has gained 1,600 students, and her kids felt the changes by moving from Eastside to Northside when boundaries changed. Her current fifth grader will be impacted by the boundary changes again when he stays at Patrick Marsh until he is moved to Central Heights Middle School in the fall of 2022.
Originally from Minneapolis, Foster moved to Sun Prairie in October 2019. He has two children — one in 4K and the other at Westside Elementary. Married for 10 years, Foster — who has a mental health background — became interested in running for the board after hearing what was happening.
“For me, it’s very simple,” Foster said. “Either you want to be a part of the problem or you want to be part of the solution, so I decided to throw my name into the hat to be part of the solution. I’m very passionate about Sun Prairie even though I’ve only been here a short time.”
Born and raised in Pewaukee, McCright is a fire captain for the Sun Prairie Fire Department. McCright attended UW-Madison, where she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology and legal studies. She received a post-baccalaureate from Madison College to become a paralegal in 2004, and that’s when she moved to Sun Prairie.
McCright has two children in the district — one in second grade and the other in fifth grade —- and is a member of the Northside School Community council. A firefighter in Sun Prairie for almost 15 years, McCright works as a car seat technician and a peer support member of the department.
“Mental health is extremely important in everybody’s world,” McCright said, referring to her work in peer support on the department. She is also a part-time instructor in Madison College’s Fire Service section.
Other community involvements McCright cited during her introductory remarks included being a member of the Optimist Club of Sun Prairie and a member of the YMCA Advisory Board.
Top three issues
When asked to list their top three issues facing the Sun Prairie Area School District, two of the three Sun Prairie School Board candidates cited the COVID-19 pandemic in their answers.
McCright listed the COVID-19 pandemic, racial equity, and how money is being spent in the district.
“We need to learn from this and prepare ourselves to reinvent what we are doing and how we are teaching kids,” McCright said, adding that full-time school and virtual instruction should also be considered as options.
Relating to racial equity, McCright said the district needs to be proactive instead of reactive. A recently SPASD email from Superintendent Brad Saron left McCright with a positive feeling about racial equity. “I was excited to see that there will be an equity and engagement administrator as well as equity assessors,” McCright said, adding that she wants to see where the SPASD should be held accountable by the assessors and where improvements could be made.
“We also have to have that baseline to make sure that we follow up on our practices and we’re making the impact that’s needed,” McCright said.
With anxiety about feeding families already present, the SPASD needs to be vigilant about spending money.
“When taxes keep going up, we need to be accountable about where that spending is going and why it’s going there,” McCright said.
Horton listed growth as an over-reaching issue impacting all parts of the SPASD.
The growth means more schools must be built and boundaries need to change regularly, and more demand for tax revenue.
“And also when we grow into more of an urban district, versus a rural district,” Horton added, “we have growing diversity, which is wonderful. We have diversity in income, we have diversity in color of skin, and we have diversity in where people are coming from when they move here and lots of different things that are combining together to make Sun Prairie an even better place than it was before.”
Foster listed racial equity, COVID-19, and evaluating staff that are leaving the SPASD.
“You don’t have to go far to see how critical that is, not only for families of color, but it’s important for everybody, right?” Foster said, referring to equity. “Because how we treat people who we have economic differences or financial differences, or racial differences, is very important because we are modeling that behavior for our children . . . to be intentional and deliberate about addressing that. And be brave, and not wait for there to be instances to have to react to that, and to be leading in those matters instead of reacting.”
Foster said COVID-19 and its impacts will be felt by teachers, families and the community, as well as how staff are being treated.
“If the teachers aren’t prepared, that’s going to affect how they’re teaching and it could even affect if they are going to remain teachers in this district,” Foster said.
Regarding departing SPASD staffers, Foster said the district needs to ask questions that include why they are leaving and why they are leaving now.
“What’s going on in our school district that’s encouraging them to think there’s better alternatives than what we have going on right here in Sun Prairie. I think that’s very important, right?” Foster said, adding that it is important to keep staffers who are doing things correctly and already have strong relationships with students and families in the community.
The Sun Prairie School Board election is Tuesday April 6; SPASD residents should contact their municipal clerk about hours at their polling place.