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Watch our recent OKCPS Board Candidate Forum from The Foundation for OKCPS on Vimeo.

On Feb. 12, voters in Oklahoma City Public Schools will decide who will represent them on the school board for the next four years. The at-large chairman’s seat will be put to a district-wide vote with incumbent Angela Monson running against Lynne Hardin. Voters in District 1 will choose between newcomers Bob Hammack and E. Jann Maulstby. In the District 2 race, the ballot will show incumbent Gail Vines against Justin Ellis. However, Vines has indicated she will support Ellis in the race.

The Foundation hosted a candidate forum at its recent board of directors’ meeting. Watch the video above to learn more about the candidates. The Foundation also asked each candidate to respond to a survey of various questions about the school district. We’re hopeful residents will use this information and other resources to make an informed decision on Election Day.

Click here to view our compilation of tweets from a school board candidate forum.

Please click on the candidate’s name to view survey responses.

Chairman


Lynne Hardin
405.361.4491
lynne@lynnehardin.com
PO Box 92, Oklahoma City, OK 73101
Education:
Northwest Classen, 1964; Pennsacola Jr. College, 1965-1967
Occupation: President and CEO of Integrated Solutions
Local community service/activities: Women Presidents Organization

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in the district?

We have the following challenges which I believe are also opportunities. As a community we must be willing to come together with the intention of having an A+ public school system. MAPS for Kids must be about more than just bricks and mortar. It must be about the spirit of learning held within those walls.
● Improving Student Achievement
● Allowing Teachers to Teach
● Hiring and Keeping Good Teachers
● Providing Oversight and Transparency
● Re-Engaging our Entire Community
What has the district done well in the last four years? What has it done poorly that you would change?

I think it is valuable that the district is trying to identify some of the major issues in our OKCPS. And while it is ambiguous as to how the A-F grading system in determined, we have established a baseline that will allow us to better acknowledge our challenges which is the first step toward making a change.
On the other side of this is the amount of teaching time taken away from the classroom to fulfill some of these requirements.
Like most residents, I am shocked and saddened the situation at Douglass occurred. We must make certain we have accountability throughout the district and a consistent auditing of transcripts so we do not risk anything with such lifelong consequences to happen again.

What policies do you think hold back the district and what changes will you seek?

I am concerned about some policies that, as I understand them, strictly limit the ability of teachers and those in the classroom to call attention to problems. I fully understand the need for principals and management to control the flow of information and to make certain they take care of day-to-day issues; however, as I have spoken to teachers, it is clear we need to improve communication within the district. Teachers, parents, and principals need to know their views, ideas and concerns matter to the board.
In my conversations with teachers, I hear they believe they are spending too much time learning new programs, which while valuable, keeps them from the classroom.
It is my belief if we can work in cooperation with all stakeholders, we can create a public educational system in OKC that will equal our growing A+ city and be a model for the country.

What have been the positives and negatives of the extended learning calendar? Are you supportive of its continuation?

The extended calendar has a positive effect on student learning and retention. It also provides an opportunity for mentoring and remedial help throughout the calendar year. Funding is always a challenge when buildings are open more hours and teachers are paid for additional time. However, I believe the extended calendar is going to be better for our students and we must find creative ways to fund the extended calendar. I am aware some parents have had childcare issues, and I believe these are being rectified as the extended calendar becomes more accepted.

What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

The greatest capital need at this time, in my opinion, is to complete the capital projects already promised in MAPS for Kids and the most recent bond issue while maintaining the investment in our schools. Once MAPS for Kids is complete we can reassess the needs of the district. Again, we need to address more than just bricks and mortar. We need to consider all the changes that will be necessary to build an A+ educational system for our children and the future of OKC.

In addition, our district cannot be caught off-guard by changing demographics. As we look at capital needs, we must look at population growth. I also believe we need to make certain that our growing Charter School system finds innovative ways to address their capital needs as well.

What civic, business or advocate groups do you have connections with? What about their agenda appeals to you?

● I have been a member of the downtown OKC Rotary and the “service before self” agenda appeals to me.
● FRIENDS of NWC Foundation is a group I have deep roots with and “giving back to the public school system that served us so well” is the agenda of that organization.
● International Women’s Forum (IWF) is an international group of women leaders with an agenda of meeting, understanding and sharing from a global perspective.

How would you engage teachers, other district employees and district stakeholders to better understand their concerns and ideas about improving OKCPS?

Everyone needs to be at the table. We must improve communication and let all stakeholders know their input is valued. We need to provide opportunities for dialogue between diverse groups – including community, civic and business leaders outside of the school system – on a regular basis. Our teachers need to know the rest of the community cares about their concerns and is willing to support improvements. Our citizenry needs to know just how much our teachers do care about their students.

How will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the whole school district?

In the position of School Board Chair, I will make sure the entire district is valued. This will reach through all segments of our community.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

I have always had an open door policy and anyone who has worked with me knows I can be reached directly via phone or email and respond to concerns. I do not have all the answers, but will work to build trust with all constituents of the OKCPS system.

What criteria do you think constituents should use to hold school board members accountable?

I believe we all must hold ourselves accountable… as well as the Board. I envision a time, through working together, when we will all be involved in the accountability and responsibility for our future generations. Our children are the greatest recourse we have and we must have a commitment from all stakeholders to create a dynamic, innovative, valuable public education system.

Our community, working together, will have achieved success when every parent and student is excited about being in the OKCPS district and when businesses are moving to OKC because of the educational opportunity offered. We will have succeeded when student achievement, community participation and opportunity is enhanced in every neighborhood. We will have succeeded when we are creating a viable workforce and giving our young people hope that they have the same opportunity for the American dream others before them have enjoyed. We will have succeeded when the voters care enough about the OKCPS district to exercise their right to vote. We will have succeeded when we move from a D to and A+ rating. It cannot be just the board, parents, teachers and administrators, but the entire community must be accountable. We have to stop pointing fingers and do what is right. Where the system does not work it is time to fix it.


Angela Monson
405.587.0444
angela-monson@ouhsc.edu
720 NE 42nd Street, OKC OK 73105
Education: MPA
Occupation: Associate Provost
Local community service/activities: Chair, Oklahoma Afterschool Network; Member, Oklahoma City/County Board of Health; OU Medical Center Board of Trustees; Chairperson, Oklahoma City Board of Education; Member, Voice of Praise Baptist Church; Member, Northeast Academy PTSA What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in the district?

Oklahoma City Public Schools face many challenges common to most other urban school districts including, lack of funding certainty (both at the state and federal level); low student performance; hiring and retaining high quality teachers and administrators; and increasing the level of commitment to and active participation in public education by parents and other district patrons. Other challenges faced by Oklahoma City Public Schools, although not necessarily unique, may not be as commonly discussed as the aforementioned. Those challenges include: enhancing awareness of the urgency to address district and student needs; creating systematic accountability that ensures appropriate action is taken in a timely way; and developing a process that empowers district employees to take ownership of their work and thus responsibility for the expected outcomes.

Those challenges however, also create opportunities for the district. With the substantial reduction in funding since 2009, the district embarked upon a fiscal austerity plan which has resulted in a solvent fund balance. We must work now to better ensure expenditures are aligned with goals and improve our budgeting process. The demands placed upon teachers and building administrators are great. It is imperative to allow decisions to be made as closely to implementation as possible. We must create opportunities for professional development that equip teachers and administrators with the leadership and team building skills that support success of more localized decision making. The primary issue of low student performance opens the door to many opportunities to provide student instruction and community engagement differently, including more individualized instruction, better utilization of paraprofessionals and industry and business professionals, substantially enhanced distance learning and more closely associating curriculum with career, college and professional interest of students.

What has the district done well in the last four years? What has it done poorly that you would change?

Although more attention has been given to the District’s academic failures than improvements, the most recent academic measures note substantial improvement in many areas. Certainly much greater improvements must be made. Yet, the increases which are being seen this year are certainly a result of the efforts of many over that past few years. Also significant, over the past four years the District was able to not only survive but actually improve its financial footing while facing a period of extreme financial cutbacks. That success is attributable to the willingness of the administration and the Board to protect student priorities, make difficult decisions about programmatic and staff reductions, and in the case of many, take on additional duties and work without compensation. Also, the development and implementation of a District Strategic Plan has been very valuable. The Plan has served as a guide to helping establish District priorities and work. The process utilized to develop the Strategic Plan was also very beneficial to improving community input and will serve as a model as the District continues to evaluate its work and plan for the future. During the past few years, the District also put in place an initiative which has proven to increase the academic success of students, the Academy model. This initiative very clearly aligns a student’s curriculum and courses with a professional career area of their choosing, making class work much more relevant and exciting. The decision to move to Academies in all of our high schools, as well as incorporating career exposure into our middle and elementary schools will ensure that students see the correlation between academic success and success in career and life. Additionally, over the past four years, the District has successfully incorporated teachers affiliated with Teach for America and the UCO Urban teacher program, expanded Pre-K to all 4 year olds with a substantial number of them in full day Pre-K, established full day kindergarten, appointed Community Advisory Boards in many schools, improved communication and working relationships with our charter schools, and appointed Board committees to better inform and engage members in policy issues and concerns.Those areas in which the District has not done as well again are relating to accountability and the speed at which issues/concerns are addressed. Although we have and will continue to identify and address those elements that continue to bog down appropriate and timely action, I believe we have fallen short in this area. Some of the other areas which I believe the District has performed poorly are the utilization of technology in the classroom; improving community engagement including the utilization of volunteers and other community partners to enhance academic success, address behavioral concerns, increase transparency and to foster a better understanding of District operations; and the development and implementation of a public awareness initiative which improves the image of OKCPS.What policies do you think hold back the district and what changes will you seek?Policies which force the centralization of many decisions I believe inherently impede academic progress of students. Those include, but are not limited to, limitations regarding Title I, the utilization of curriculum and materials which are required by the Central Office, professional development requirements, some policies which guide the process by which teachers and some building administrators are hired and evaluated, and some of the policies which direct the manner in which student performance is measured. Some of these concerns are as a result of state policies and may require statutory change or change at the State Department of Education. I believe it is very important to provide greater flexibility (up to the maximum allowed under federal law) to schools and districts without imposing limitations which do not allow changes which will better meet student needs which will require policy changes both at the State Department as well as District policies. I will also seek to change policies (statutory language) which will afford the district greater flexibility relating to the hiring and termination of our staff and also seek to provide deregulation and thus greater flexibility in required academic hours, length of school day, and the evaluation of student work and performance.

What have been the positives and negatives of the extended learning calendar? Are you supportive of its continuation?

Extending the learning calendar has provided an opportunity for students to have a more consistent learning schedule throughout the year. However, it is still the same number of days in the classroom. I do not believe, however, that the extended learning calendar has been implemented as it was initially designed and thus, we have not seen the expected improvements. The major plus of the extended calendar was an opportunity to remediate students early and also offer a period of time for more individualized instruction. Unfortunately, three extra days as it has been implemented in most cases, no real leverage to require teachers to work during that time, and no real requirement that students participate, will not and have not allowed any real measurable academic improvement resulting from the extended calendar. The answer is not to do away with the new schedule, but to seek the policy changes needed to ensure that it will be implemented in a manner in which those students who will benefit most attend and are provided the level of instruction they need to improve.

What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

The District maintains an extensive document which outlines all capitol and facility needs. We have a great need to ensure that routine maintenance can be undertaken in our buildings to avoid more severe mechanical breakdowns or other costly expenditures. Roof repair is currently underway along with many other improvements through the 2007 bond issue. Items such as locker rooms, stadiums, and other equipment needs for many specialty areas must still be addressed.

What civic, business or advocate groups do you have connections with? What about their agenda appeals to you?

Other than the community activities listed earlier, I am not formally connected with any specific civic, business and advocate groups. However, because of by past experience and long standing service in Oklahoma and throughout the country, I have many, many connections and associations with individuals and organizations which are very influential in Oklahoma and the nation. My relationship with those groups is based upon their intent and desire to improve the quality of life for all.

How would you engage teachers, other district employees and district stakeholders to better understand their concerns and ideas about improving OKCPS?

Our district policy calls for the development of District Work Teams. These teams are aligned with the major areas identified in the Strategic Plan. Within the next 30 days, it is my intent to put into operation those teams which will be representative of the above mentioned constituencies. Also, I plan to utilize a variety of task forces, such as an IT Task Force, comprised of experts to work with district personnel to address issues and needs. The task forces would be appointed as needed and dissolved when completed. Additionally, I believe it would be helpful to establish regular meeting schedules with various groups, much like we currently do with the Oklahoma City Council, to ensure a means of productive communication.

How will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the whole school district?

Clearly, my focus has been and will continue to be on meeting the needs of the entire district. I will continue to work to ensure that I understand the needs of specific member districts and work with each Board member to enhance their effectiveness.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

As in the past, I will continue to avail myself to meet with school PTSAs and other community organizations to discuss school district activities and needs. I have and will continue to attend school CAB meetings as well as quarterly District CAB meetings convened by several District Board members. It is also my goal to make sure that School Board meetings are available either live or recorded, readily available on line and/or through local cable access. I also plan to join the Superintendent as he convenes his public forums throughout the District. The District’s Community Engagement policy also calls for the creation of District Work Teams comprised of constituents from across the district. It is my goal to ensure that the Teams are operational within the next 30 days.

What criteria do you think constituents should use to hold school board members accountable?

That members make every possible attempt to communicate and provide information about District activities; be responsive to their concerns and needs and provide appropriate direction and referrals to have concerns addressed; be honest and forthright in their dealings; and above all, maintain a focus on the academic success of children.

District 1



Bob Hammack
405.605.4040
bob@newwestgroup.com
3200 Lamp Post Lane, Oklahoma City, OK 73120
Education:
Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma State University; Graduate of Northwest Classen HSOccupation: Advertising agency president/ creative director

Local community service/activities:Leadership Oklahoma City, Leadership Oklahoma, past Chairman Oklahoma Cit Zoological Trust, Member of the board of the Downtown Rotary Club 29, past president of the Oklahoma Media Network (a chapter of the Alliance for Women in Media,) past President of FYI, For Youth Initiatives (a nonprofit working to improve high school graduation rates,) past president of The Oklahoma Zoological Society, current Board member of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Schools, past member of the Oklahoma City Arts Council, past officer of the Oklahoma City Advertising Club, past member of the board of directors of the Omniplex Science Museum, and I have served as “Principal for the day” for Cleveland Grade School, Taft Junior High and Northwest Classen H.S.

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in the district?

The challenges are obvious. It is troubling to see situations such as occurred recently at Douglas High School. In my district, Centennial HS, received a grade of D on the recent Oklahoma State Department of Education 2011-2012 A – F Report Card. 36 other district schools also received a grade of “D.” This is unacceptable. However, there are opportunities and roads to improvement. Our district faces many of the same problems facing other school systems around the country. We should always be open to learning from other success stories in education and be flexible enough to adapt new strategies, which are working elsewhere. There are many opportunities to explore ways to help our children learn and grow to be productive citizens.

What has the district done well in the last four years? What has it done poorly that you would change?

I think the most significant thing is being open to new ways to educate students. Change is seldom easy and it requires courage to say “this is not working, let’s find something that will.” Many people resist change because puts them ground that they are not familiar. The disappointing Report Card scores indicate that there is much room for improvement in the current strategic plan. As a potential new member of the board, I am hesitant to speculate of things that I may have read in the paper or other media, or heard from friends. Ask me this same question in a year and I am confident I will be in a better position to respond more specifically.

What policies do you think hold back the district and what changes will you seek?

To successfully educate students requires three things. It starts with first rate Principals at each school. Schools that are doing well reflect leadership that is able to motivate, organize and lead by example. The second ingredient for success is early childhood education. Numerous teachers tell me that if a student is behind, that they lack the basic building blocks or study habits by the time the reach the third grade, then, sadly it is too late for many of them. These students eventually will become frustrated, disenchanted and dropout. The third ingredient is strong, decisive leadership from the Board of Education and the Superintendent. The buck stops with this group.

The changes will come with time as I become well educated to specific issues. Until then, I plan to spend a lot time listening to everyone who has something significant to add to the conversation.

What have been the positives and negatives of the extended learning calendar? Are you supportive of its continuation?

At this time, I support the change. Initially, I was concerned about ensuring that meals were available to students during interim breaks. In fact, I had contacted friends at Sonic and other concerned companies about a plan to solve this problem. As it turned out, alternative opportunities were created. My wife, a former teacher, and is fond of reminding me “hungry students seldom make good students.”

What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

I am not in a position at this time to comment.

What civic, business or advocate groups do you have connections with? What about their agenda appeals to you?

During my 40 year career in advertising, I have had the pleasure of meeting many outstanding civic and business leaders. A cornerstone of my company is a commitment to helping local nonprofits. This has introduced me to many people in the advocate business.

A few of the people that I admire include leaders such as Gene Rainbolt (Bancfirst), Tom Price (Chesapeake), Mike Turpen (attorney), former Governor David Walters (now in the energy sector) and Tom McDaniel (former President of OCU). These individuals are givers, not takers. Their “agenda” is helping others. My Rotary Club has 600 members. There are also many Rotarians in my club (and other service club people), who demonstrate a commitment to helping make the world a better place. I admire anyone who puts service to others above them self.

How would you engage teachers, other district employees and district stakeholders to better understand their concerns and ideas about improving OKCPS?

With so many individuals, it is a daunting challenge. But as someone who works in the communication field, I am confident that digital opportunities exist. I look forward to finding out what technologies are currently being utilized by the district and to employ them so that I can connect with all stakeholder groups.

How will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the whole school district?

I will maintain a constant communication with the schools in my district, but the overarching concern has to be for the success of all students in the Oklahoma City School District.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

I plan on developing an interactive website where constituents can utilize to express their views. It will also allow me to post things that are happening, which impact students in my district.

What criteria do you think constituents should use to hold school board members accountable?

There are several metrics – a school overall “grade” (although I think this system is inherently flawed. It is a good first step, but needs to be fine-tuned.) Next, would be dropout rates. I also think that it is important to recognize that the issues involved are remarkably complex. One of my friends in education recently pointed out that Oklahoma suffers from chronic “low weight” babies. This medical fact has been linked to poorer academic performance. That is an example of an issue that impacts the metrics, but is beyond the scope of what the Oklahoma City Board of Education can impact. It is a community issue and involves smoking and a few others.. Other factors such cultural, one-parent families and financial challenges faced by many students are beyond what the board can alter in a significant way. Still, there are things that we can do and should be doing. Graham Greene once observed “There is always a moment in childhood when the door swings open and lets the future in.” I would like to think the ultimately the goal of the Board of Education is to ensure that when that door opens, each student is prepared so that their future is a good one. If the actions of a school board member or administration contribute in some way to our school’s failing to meet that basic obligation, they should be fired.

E. Jann Maultsby
405-514-0775
ejannmaultsby@cox.net
PO Box 13171, OKC OK 73113
Education: Florida A&M University; Bachelor of Science in Business, Cameron University; Master of Arts in Human Relations, University of Oklahoma, with a focus on public policy, organization development and behavioral science.

Occupation: Retired

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in the district?

The Oklahoma City Public Schools and its tenant connections are varied and complex. No one answer will fit every situation. Therefore, I cannot provide concise answers. I would hope to share in decisions that are in line with district policy, and for the best interests of all children.

It appears everyone is saying they want an education program(s) to enhance the future of our children. I only know what I have observed. Situations may differ on the inside where policy, etc., is created and passed.

(Editor’s note: Maultsby did not provide further answers to the survey questions).

District 2


Justin Ellis
405.848.7815
justinellis@sbcglobal.net
1714 Windsor Place, Oklahoma City OK 73116Education: Bachelor’s of Recreation

Occupation: Factory Representative

Local community service/activities: Little league baseball coach, basketball coach, youth sponsor, community volunteer for various non-profits and organizations

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in the district?

A major concern of mine is the inability of our third graders to read at grade level. This in turn is leading to our large high school drop-out rate. A major challenge is the lack of awareness and communication between administration, staff, teachers and parents.

The district is a business where consumers are the children. The children are our future community leaders so we must serve them better.

What has the district done well in the last four years? What has it done poorly that you would change?

MAPS for kids is something the district has carried out very well in the last few years, as well as, new facilities, schools, gyms, etc., and a good sense of business involvement throughout the community.

I would like to see these things continually grow and have even more business and community involvement in the school district.

All day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten has helped many families and provided a good educational experience to students in the district.

Teach for America

What policies do you think hold back the district and what changes will you seek?

While I am not certain of specific policies holding the district back, I do think the board lacks a sense of urgency in creating a better educational environment for students, teachers and staff. Achieving a letter grade of C or worse for 75% of our schools is unacceptable and we must implement policies to address this situation. I do not know of certain policies that currently hold back progression. I will seek out these policies and try to figure out why they are holding us back.

What have been the positives and negatives of the extended learning calendar? Are you supportive of its continuation?

Positive–Catching up those kids who are behind during intersession so they are not continually falling further behind after each break.

So the student does not lose knowledge due to extended time off.

Negative-affordable child care for those working parents, and the air conditioners have to run longer, more expenses.

Yes I support the calendar.

What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

Our greatest need is always human capital. As a district, we must do what is necessary to retain and attract the best teachers and school leaders.

What civic, business or advocate groups do you have connections with? What about their agenda appeals to you?

Smart Start Central Oklahoma appeals top me. The organization focuses on making sure children and families are prepared for school when entering Kindergarten. The ultimate goal is to have children reading at grade level by 3rd grade, something this district must focus.

How would you engage teachers, other district employees and district stakeholders to better understand their concerns and ideas about improving OKCPS?

I would like to hold focus groups, be visible and available to them within the community to hear their needs, concerns and ideas. I intend to visit every school in my district multiple times per year and other schools outside of my district.

How will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the whole school district?

Listen to the needs of my constituents then look at the big picture of the entire district and prioritize what needs to be done.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

I will always answer my phone, I will have my e-mail address available to everyone that wants it and I also have a Facebook page.

What criteria do you think constituents should use to hold school board members accountable?

There should be a balance of attendance and participation at meetings. Also board members should have knowledge of current issues within the district.


Gail Vines declined to complete the survey, saying her record spoke for itself. At the Jan. 7 school board meeting, Vines said she would support her opponent, Justin Ellis. (Editor’s note: Vines did not formally withdraw from the race so her name will still appear on the ballot.)

Additional election information:
To see the District 1 boundaries, view a map here.
To see the District 2 boundaries, view a map here.
To find out your polling location, visit the state’s poll locator.