Incumbent board chairwoman Angela Monson, an employee of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a former state senator, faces challenger Lynne Hardin.
First elected four years ago, Monson said she chose to run the first time because, in part, she saw bright children, including her own daughter, “not making any connection between school and a future career. There was a gap.”
Since that time, Monson said she has helped guide the district by encouraging parental involvement and helping establish career academies at its schools to emphasize the importance of education on students’ future careers.
While some of the reforms faced resistance, it has been worth it, she said. Monson said initiatives such as the live-streaming and televising of board meetings have brought more transparency to the district.
If re-elected, she said she will pursue other reforms, including expand the board’s budget approval from district-wide expenditure levels to individual school sites.
Hardin, a former development officer for the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and an entrepreneur, founded the Friends of Northwest Classen High School Foundation, which raised more than $1 million for improvements to the institution.
She said she decided to run for the office at the urging of several community members. Her campaign steering committee includes several high-profile names, including former Oklahoma City mayors Ron Norick and Kirk Humphreys, and Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson; the latter two previously chaired the school board.
If elected, Hardin said she hopes to bring more fiscal responsibility to the district, improve student achievement, augment transparency and streamline the process of hiring teachers.
She praised OKCPS Superintendent Karl Springer’s performance and said that he has brought much-needed stability, as the district went through several superintendents over the course of a few years prior to his arrival.
“I believe we can actually make this school district an A+ school district,” Hardin said, adding that all stakeholders — from teachers to businesses — should be engaged to come up with solutions. “We have the ability to solve these issues. We just have to want to do it.”