School Board Candidates address issues at SPARC forum

 Full video coverage of our forum!  Candidate introductions begin at the 4:20 mark.

SPARC hosted a lively forum with all three candidates for the Sun Prairie School Board on Sunday, March 16, 2014 at the Sun Prairie Public Library.  The event was P1360057moderated by P1360050 P1360055  Diane Martin Liebert, member and past president of the Madison League of Women Voters.

Sun Prairie has three citizens committed to serving our kids and our schools stepping up this year:

  • Carol Albright, retired SPASD educator and parent
  • Jessica Moehr, SPASD parent and citizen representative to the school board’s Performance & Operations committee  (campaign website)
  • Tom Weber, incumbent school board president 

One of SPARC’s main goals as a community civic and volunteer organization is to help make sure voters know more about who is running for local offices, and to provide opportunities for the candidates to share their views with the community.  We believe that local engagement and local action is the key to a thriving community, where every voice is valued and every perspective is heard.

SPARC put out a call  for questions to its members and the wider community, and then curated a set of questions that best represented the concerns and interests of Sun Prairie.   None of the candidates had access to the questions prior to the event. Since one of the candidates, Carol Albright is a member of SPARC, it was very important to us to ensure the process be fair to all the candidates, and that a neutral third party moderate the event. We thank all who attended the event and submitted questions for consideration.  Thanks, too, to Diane Martin-Liebert for her excellent moderation skills, and to the candidates for taking the time to share their time and thoughts with the larger community.

The questions and complete event agenda are posted below the video.

The spring election will be held on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, and eligible district residents can vote early/absentee by mail or in person at City Hall, 300 East Main St., from Monday, March 18 to Friday, March 28.    For more information on the spring election, please see: SPARC’s Local Election Guide – SPRING 2014

See the STAR coverage here.
Dane County League of Women Voters Q&A here.
Wisconsin State Journal Q&A here.

Sun Prairie School Board Candidate Forum
with Carol Albright • Jessica Moehr • Tom Weber

Moderated by Diane Martin Liebert, past president, Madison League of Women Voters
Sunday, March 16, 2014
• Sun Prairie Public Library

  • Welcome and Announcements from the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition
  • Candidate Introductions: Each candidate may have up to 5 minutes to tell about themselves, their vision for education and why they are running for school board.
  • Forum Questions. Candidates will take turns answering each question. Up to three minutes will be allowed for each answer. The questions were solicited and compiled by SPARC members and represent the concerns of local voters.
  1. Some school boards see themselves strictly as policy makers; some are more involved in school operations; others take on an advocacy role. Describe your view of the appropriate roles of the school board and the superintendent.
  2. How do you determine the appropriate levels of staffing in the district? Include your thoughts about levels for administration, teachers and staff.
  3. Equity can be defined either as providing the same educational opportunities for all, or providing differing instruction based on interests and abilities (such as grouping by reading ability, accelerated or AP classes, tech ed. etc). Research and opinion is split on what equity is and how to best close the significant achievement gaps while maximizing learning for all students. Given that Wisconsin has one of the highest achievement gaps, what does equity mean to you? If you were to walk into a classroom in Sun Prairie and see your vision of equity being carried out, describe what this would look like/what would you see?
  4. How do you believe the current testing model impacts Sun Prairie students?
  5. In a presentation to the School Board last fall on the SnackSmart program, SPARC made specific recommendations to the board regarding student hunger in our schools and how we could partner to address it. The recommendations included establishing a hunger task force, designating more resources and funds to meeting snack needs in the schools, and proactive promotion of the school breakfast program.  So far, no action has been taken on these recommendations.  Do you support establishing a Hunger Taskforce and how do you think the issue of hunger should be addressed in our public schools? 
  6. If growth slows in the district, funding would be reduced and Sun Prairie could find itself needing to make cuts like many districts in the state currently are doing. What would the district need to do if this happens?
  7. In the post-Act 10 political environment, there is a marked decline in the morale of teachers and staff.  Many educators in our district and across the state do not feel free to share their views with the administration and school board and feel like they do not have voice in the decision making process.  What will you do to address these concerns and how do you think the community can and should support its teachers and staff?
  8. Transparency and community involvement are at the heart of SPARC’s mission. The Special Electors Meeting that was held to re-vote on the bussing issue last year demonstrates problems with communication between the Board and the community.  Those who opposed the process felt shut out of it, while those who participated in the process felt that the board was simply dissatisfied with the results of the Annual Meeting.  As an elected representative what would you do to inform and engage the community?
  • Audience Q & A
  •  Closing remarks from candidates.
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