By Patrick B. McGuigan, Editor and Publisher
OKLAHOMA CITY – When it comes to local public schools and citizen support, the glass is half-full, or half-empty, depending on how you look at it.
District 2 School Board candidate Rebecca Budd reflected that, often, in a recent letter to voters, “So many people care about public education. They work for OKCPS. Their children are enrolled in our schools. They volunteer in our schools. They belong to our PTAs. They donate to non-profits supporting our schools.”
She is running, Budd says, to make OKCPS classrooms better for everyone – students, families, educators and more.” To be sure, she is “frustrated. … It’s not working for everyone. It’s leaving many children behind. Public education has the power to lift people out of poverty and transform their lives. It did mine. And I want that for every child.”
Budd is a professional, but also a dreamer: “I’m ready to put my real-world experience as a business leader and my real-world experience as a passionate advocate for OKCPS to work for all of us.”
In an exchange with The City Sentinel, she reflected a clear-eyed understanding that resources are a challenge at all levels of government in Oklahoma, including schools.
She commented, “Today OKCPS faces extremely challenging times. It’s very unfortunate that our school board kicked the can down the road on difficult decisions over the years and did not plan for these lean financial times when oil was $100 a barrel. It’s time to have a board that plans for the long term and makes decisions, as difficult as they may be, to put our district on a positive path.
“Although finances are problematic, many of OKCPS’s chronic problems such as high turnover, low student achievement, and student discipline problems must be addressed now. Teacher pay is a significant factor in turnover but even a substantial pay raise will not slow turnover.
“Our teachers face serious roadblocks including the lack of school supplies, needed curriculum and textbooks, and student support services such as counselors, school nurses, and social workers. They are overburdened with administrative tasks and testing.”
For all the difficulties, “The Oklahoma City Public Schools [system] is the 5th largest employer in Oklahoma City and it needs to focus on being a leader in employee satisfaction. To address the chronic problems, providing teachers with what they need to help their students must be our highest priority.”
Although she led the February primary and defeated the board incumbent, on April 4, Budd did not receive an outright majority of votes in the three person race. She faces Nick Singer in balloting that will fill the seat.