School days

District
4 is located primarily in the inner north-central section of OKC, but
stretches as far south as Capitol Hill Elementary School. The seat is
being vacated by board member Steve Shafer.

A second school board election in school OKCPS District 3, with incumbent Phil Horning running for re-election, is uncontested.

Both elections are scheduled for Feb. 14. If a runoff election is required, it will be April 3.

Campaign donation and expenditure filings for each candidate are not due until later this week.

Vying for the open seat are Patrick Gaines, 42; Crystal Hodges, 33; and Laura Massenat, 44.

Patrick Gaines
Gaines
is the owner of Gaines Government Services, an OKC government relations
and lobbying firm. The University of Oklahoma graduate has two
10-year-olds attending Wilson Elementary School and serves on the board
of the nonprofit Wilson Arts Inc.

A former employee of the
State Regents for Higher Education, Gaines said he chose to run because
he feels a position on the school board is one of the most important
roles in the city that can have a positive impact.

He
said he hopes to champion the cause of making schools community
cornerstones, thereby increasing parental and community involvement.

“Back when we were growing
up, schools were the focal point of the community, and everything
happened at the schools,” Gaines said. “That really provided a sense of
community and ownership with the school. That’s something we’re lacking
today. Once you find a way to bring the community and parents back into
the school system where they feel they have a stake in it, you’re going
to address a lot of the other concerns we face.”

Other
issues Gaines said he hopes to address are local control of schools,
communication between the district administration and schools regarding
federal and state mandates, class size, the importance of teaching
healthy lifestyles and habits, and using technology to facilitate
communication between the district and parents.

Crystal Hodges
Hodges,
a U.S. Navy veteran, holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education
from OU, and has three children, as well as a nephew her family is
raising. She is home-schooling all four.

Hodges said she is running
because she has a passion for education. Although she home-schools her
children, Hodges said she hopes to be able to extend some of the options
that she was given to other members of the community who may not be so
fortunate.

“I think
I’ve come to a point in my life where it’s time to give back and this
is one thing I think I would be good at,” Hodges said. “My skill set is
directed toward education. I’m looking outside of my own life, my own
family, to extend that to the community because here are a lot of
families that don’t have the choices I have, or the choices that many
people have regarding private schools, home schooling, or even charter
or magnet schools.”

In
talking with members of the community, teachers and parents, Hodges
said she has found that each have their own issues they want addressed.

She
said teachers cite funding, discipline and the amount of testing as
concerns, while parents point to curriculum and bullying. Hodges said
other people in the community worry that the city’s reputation is
tarnished by the bad rap that Oklahoma City public schools have
received.

Hodges said
her only agenda is to be a watchdog for students, and she said she hopes
to be an independent voice on the school board.

Laura Massenat
Massenat
is the owner of Elemental Coffee and works with the nonprofit group Eat
Wise OKC, which promotes healthy eating and lifestyles in OKCPS. She
has four children attending schools in the district.

Massenat,
who holds a degree in elementary education from OU, said she felt the
biggest issue is the school district’s compliance problems with federal
and state performance benchmarks, such as test scores required for
graduation eligibility.

Massenat
said she hopes to be able to regularly visit all schools and wants to
link the schools with community resources and corporate partnerships to
help address their unique, individual needs.

She
added that she supports the proposed downtown charter school, which
will be a partnership between the private sector and OKC public schools.

“I
feel like the school district partnering with the private sector, and
also partnering with the city on different programs, is going to be the
way to go forward. I think we’re about to shift,” she said.

“I’m
going to be looking for different partnerships that can happen at each
school, and then on a district and city level, on a district and
business community level, to join all three of those. It’s in all of our
interest to have great schools in Oklahoma City.”

In
addition, Massenat said she wants to improve school cafeteria nutrition
and make schools the civic hub of their surrounding communities.

Schools represented in District 4:
ASTEC
Charter
Capitol Hill Elementary
Classen School of Advanced Studies
DOVE
Charter
Edgemere Elementary
Emerson High School
Eugene Field Elementary

Gatewood Elementary
Hawthorne Elementary
Independence High School Charter
Sequoyah Elementary
Wilson Elementary

Clifton Adcock

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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