Oklahoma school board filing begins today

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Just when you thought elections were over.... The filing period for Oklahoma K-12 school boards and vo-tech school boards runs from Monday, December 4, through Wednesday, December 6. School board seats in Oklahoma run for three, four, or five years, depending on the size of the district, with different seats coming up for election each year.

Here's the official press release from the Tulsa County Election Board (with the list of offices reformatted for the web):

Candidates for the Board of Education in 15 Tulsa County School Districts will file Declarations of Candidacy beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, December 4. Gene Pace, Secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board, said the filing period will end at 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 6.

Candidates for the Board of Education in Tulsa Technology Center District No. 18 also will file their Declarations of Candidacy during this same time period.

Board of Education positions at stake will be filled at the Annual School Election scheduled February 13, 2007. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the total votes cast in this election, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will meet in a second election on Tuesday, April 3.

Offices for which Declarations of Candidacy will be accepted at the Tulsa County Election Board office include the following:

ISD-1Tulsa DistrictElection District 14 yr term
ISD-2Sand Springs DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-3Broken Arrow DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-4Bixby DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-5Jenks DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-6Collinsville DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-7Skiatook DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-8Sperry DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-9Union DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-10Berryhill DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-11Owasso DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-13Glenpool DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
ISD-14Liberty DistrictOffice No. 25 yr term
C-15Keystone Elementary DistrictOffice No. 23 yr term
C-18Leonard Elementary DistrictOffice No. 23 yr term
Tulsa Technology Center District No.18Zone 67 yr term
- 30 -

Gary Percefull is the incumbent board member for Tulsa District 1. According to the school board's website, "schools in Mr. Percefull's election district include Addams, Chouteau, Emerson, Eugene Field, Lee, Park, Remington, Robertson, Roosevelt and Mark Twain elementary schools; Clinton and Madison middle schools; and Central and Webster high schools." That's Tulsa west of the river and west of downtown, plus downtown, Brady Heights, and the area between 11th and 21st, Utica and the Arkansas River. (Here's a PDF map showing the election district boundaries.)

Percefull was elected to an open seat in 2003, defeating Loyce Manning by 930 to 310 votes. Think about that -- if you're a credible candidate and run an organized campaign, it doesn't take much to win.

In 2005, turnout in Election District 2 was only 723 of the 17,884 registered voters -- 4 percent. Also in 2005, Election District 3 drew 887 voters in the primary for an open seat, and 2,106 in the April runoff.

The participation is a little better in the suburbs, but not by much. In 2005, a highly publicized Union School Board open-seat race drew 1,131 voters in the primary and less than 1,600 runoff voters.

(Notice that the Tulsa Whirled never questions the legitimacy of school board elections, even though the turnout is many times smaller than that for a similarly-sized City Council district?)

School board elections are governed by 70 O. S. 5-107A.

Local political activists Gregory and Susan Hill keep close track of elections, and they say that "in 2006, 17 school board elections were scheduled [in Tulsa County], but only 5 elections actually were conducted.... In 2005, 17 elections were scheduled, but only 7 elections actually were conducted." The other elections didn't happen because only one candidate filed.

Some might say these elections don't draw candidates because residents are content with the public school system. I think it's more likely that the filing period catches potential candidates by surprise, coming as it does during the busy run-up to Christmas.

We need to take school board elections as seriously as races for City Council or state legislature. In particular, the Tulsa board needs at least one member who is a staunch supporter of charter schools. Right now, Tulsa has only three charter schools -- one elementary, one middle, and one high school -- and the current board is hostile to allowing any more to open. Oklahoma City has more than 10. Charter schools make educational choice accessible to families who cannot afford private school tuition. Tulsa also needs board members who see their role as accountability, not cheerleading for the administration.

Wherever you live in Oklahoma, find out who your school board member is and think about whether you or someone you know could do a better job than the incumbent. If you're a reformer who decides to run, there are plenty of knowledgable and experienced campaign volunteers who would be glad to help you.

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Dan Paden said:

If we ever have a rabidly anti-government-schools candidate for the school board, I'll vote for 'im. Or 'er. But otherwise, it's hard not to see 'em all in shades of gray.

Paul Tay said:

Charter skools sounds reasonable to me. But, I'm out. Not in D1. I do have several more bones to pick:

1) FAT kids. It's an epidemic, people. What you guys doing 'bout THAT? We've CONDEMNED a whole generation to cancer, diabetes, and all sorts of preventable health problems, just because kids don't get enough exercise. I know what I'd do. Make 'em walk or bike to skool. So, the mommies worry 'bout pervs pickin' 'em up? Well, my property taxes go to County and the skools. So, deploy Sheriff's deputies on bikes to escort the kiddos to skool.

2) The ENORMOUS, out-of-control gas bill. TPS Transit is the second LARGEST transit agency in the County. If the kiddos walk or bike to skool, we can cut the gas budget by 94.59% and save MILLIONS, for the really important stuff, like higher PAY for the teaches.

3) Teach State and local history. I DESPISE Texans with their misguided bravado, gotten from their state history classes in high skool. Ya can't have pride, if ya don't know yer history. I had to figure out who Maxwell wuz on my OWN.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 4, 2006 12:30 AM.

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