Monday October 4th is the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) Annual Meeting of Electors at the High School Performing Arts Center. This year a petition will be brought forward by several community members to change the seven elected School Board positions from “at-large” to “apportioned” seats, assigned by residential area. The petition requests assigning three seats to each of the Sun Prairie East and West High School attendance areas and one at-large seat.
While this may seem like an innovative idea worthy of support, we, as former SPASD School Board members are genuinely concerned about the significant negative impacts of this proposal. The primary areas of concern are:
• The board generally does not make decisions on a school-to-school basis and sets policy that applies to the entire district equally.
All board members should represent all schools and all students and make decisions with the best interests of “Every Child, Every Day” in mind.
• The petition is looking to fix a problem that does not exist. The assumption underlying the petition is that board members from one side of town do not have the interests of the entire district when they make decisions.
That assumption is not correct, and the public has not given the current board members an opportunity to govern over a district that has two high schools.
• School board members lead with unity not division. State Statutes require all seats be voted on by all district voters.
Electing board members based on high school attendance areas will only serve to foster division, rather than to act in unity as a collective “we” The district has been focusing on equity and inclusion and this counters those efforts.
• Prairie Phoenix Academy and virtual school options are overlooked in the petition and the East vs. West seats may marginalize the students and staff at these schools.
Of the 25 largest school districts in Wisconsin (SPASD is #12), 21 districts are at-large seats. Milwaukee Public Schools, with 38 high schools, is apportioned by voting areas and one at-large seat. Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), with four comprehensive high schools, has numbered seats and one at-large seat, but does not assign seats on residential location.
In Dane County’s 18 school districts, 12-are all at-large seats. One district (MMSD) has numbered seats and one at large seat. Two are all apportioned seats and three districts are geographic area and at-large seats. It is important to note that Middleton-Cross Plains and Verona, both with assigned and at-large seats, are one high school districts and assign seats by municipality.
If the apportionment question passes, a Board candidate with significantly fewer total votes could win a Board seat over one or more candidates that are running for a seat in the other side of town
These are only a few reasons we believe that the Sun Prairie Area School District students, staff, and residents deserve a united School Board with the best qualified Board candidates regardless of where they live.
Please attend the meeting on Monday, Oct. 4th and vote NO to school board seat apportionment.
Respectfully submitted by former Sun Prairie School Board members:
Mary Ellen Havel-Lang
Jill Camber Davidson