Chris Cunningham grew up in Pine River, educated in the Pine River-Backus School District. Both his parents were teachers in the district.
“I believe education is probably the most important thing we can do to invest in the future,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham is the newest board member of the PR-B School Board, taking office this month.
Cunningham moved with his family for a short time to Florida, but moved back at least in part due to the large class sizes in the Florida school district. PR-B had smaller class sizes, and he felt it was a good place to live.
His two daughters, now 10 and 13, are enrolled at PR-B. Cunningham said he wanted to make sure the district was headed in a good direction.
He ran for school board because he was concerned over issues like bullying and safety. He said issues in the PR-B district are different from those in larger cities, and he figured that if he wanted change he needed to “get in and get after it.”
This was Cunningham’s first time running for the school board, though he was also a city council member in Backus for three years, from 1997-2000. After moving around, he returned to Pine River in 2010.
Cunningham worked in sales and criminal justice, and is also a member of the Backus Fire Department for 13 years, with 18 years experience as a firefighter overall.
He’s also umpire for community education softball, grades 6-9. Initially he looked to be involved with the men’s league, but found he had more fun teaching kids. Community education is always looking for help, he said, and he wanted to get involved. He has a love for softball.
As far as Cunningham’s goals for his term on the school board, he hopes to instill a good bullying policy. He’s concerned about being fiscally responsible, and he wants to “make sure school spirit gets back” and get kids more involved in sports and arts.
“Being part of fine arts helps make well-rounded kids,” he said.
Cunningham also has concern for elective classes. For example, he spent some time in California, working at a vineyard. He encountered a lot of Spanish-speaking employees and feels that Spanish would be a useful language for students to learn as they could encounter it in their future.
Overall, Cunningham’s biggest concern as he begins his four-year term on the school board is “maintaining the best education we can have.”