Illustration by Meg Wagler for the Hauxeda.

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This article is part of a series by Hauxeda's education reporter, Cory Matteson, comparing the school board candidates' responses to topical questions.

Q: If you have school-age children, are they enrolled in the SPS system or are they enrolled in private schools, and why?

Kelly Byrne: I do have kids in the district, a fourth-grader and a first-grader. I’m the only candidate who can say he both graduated from the district and has kids enrolled in the district. We are fortunate enough to have our kids in one of the best performing elementary schools in SPS, and overall our direct experiences have been mostly positive. However, SPS is the largest district in the state, and there is a lot of variance from school to school. Being totally and blatantly honest, there are schools in this district that I would pull my kids from and enroll in private school, but the majority of parents and guardians don’t have that option, and they shouldn’t have to. Our taxes go to SPS, and the district spends a lot more money per student than it costs for a private school tuition. We should expect better from our schools.

Chad Courtney: The SPS school system was the reason we remained in Springfield immediately prior to my oldest daughter starting kindergarten. All three of my children attend/attended school in the Springfield R-12 system. Maggie graduated from Central in 2020. Luke is a senior at Kickapoo. Eli is a sophomore at Central.

As you can tell, open enrollment and the choice programs are big reasons for our decision to enroll our children in SPS schools. Each child was able to find their niche to allow them to reach their full potential as a result of open enrollment. All three of my children have different interests and talents. Open enrollment rather than our mailing address allowed them to choose which high school program fit them best.

Steve Makoski: My wife and I have two well-accomplished sons that are graduates of Kickapoo High School.

Charles Taylor: While I no longer have school-age children (and my grandson is only 20 months old), our daughter completed 12 years in SPS schools, graduating from KHS in 2009.

Brandi VanAntwerp: I have three students enrolled in SPS. Two are in elementary and the other in middle school. My husband and I chose public schools for our children because we believe public schools are a vital part of our community, and SPS provides incredible opportunities for students through choice programs and summer school offerings. My husband and I were both public school students and both have family members who work in or worked in public school systems. My sister teaches in Neosho, Missouri elementary public schools, my brother-in-law teaches in Indiana public schools, and my father-in-law was a 6th-grade teacher in the Chicago suburbs for 36 years.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson