Ed Dept
Oklahoma Department of Education Building at the State Capitol complex in Oklahoma City. 
New faces will fill the majority of seats on the State Board of Education at its next meeting. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has announced new appointees for four seats along with two holdovers from his first term.
 
The changes are not unexpected because board members often choose to step aside after a four-year stint, and also because appointees must live within specific congressional districts and redistricting has impacted where some prior members can serve.
 
The two prior members of the board who will continue serving are attorney Sarah Lepak, senior environmental project manager at QuikTrip Corporation-Tulsa, and Trent Smith, a former University of Oklahoma football player and businessman who helped found Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, an advocacy organization whose motto reads: “Every child deserves a quality education.”
 
 
Both holdover appointments are relatively new to the board. Lepak was appointed in February 2022 after a member of the state board resigned due to health reasons. Smith was appointed in January 2021.
 
Due to redistricting, Smith will now be the appointee from the Third Congressional District rather than the Fifth Congressional District.
 
The new faces on the board include the following individuals:
 
The state board member for the First Congressional District will be Donald Burdick, an entrepreneur who co-founded four oil and gas companies and currently serves as the CEO of Olifant Energy II.
 
The state board member for the Third Congressional District will be Marla Hill, a home education teacher of her five children at Hill Academy High. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science from Oklahoma City University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.
 
The state board member for the Fourth Congressional District will be Kendra Wesson, who owns Operation Accounting, Inc. in Norman. She received her Bachelor of Accounting with a Certified Public Accountant emphasis with a minor in ethics from Mid-America Christian University. She received her Associate of Science in Business Enterprise and Associate of Applied Science in Accounting from Oklahoma State University. Wesson is a Caddo Nation tribal member and has served as a board member for the Le Monde International School, a public charter school in Norman.
 
Suzanne Reynolds will serve as the at-large state board member. Reynolds has served in higher education at different universities, including at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy. Reynolds received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma. Her mother was a public-school art teacher for Oklahoma City Public Schools and her father served as a professor at Oklahoma Christian University.
 
Stitt’s six appointees to the State Board of Education are all subject to Senate confirmation.
 
The seventh seat on the board, which is the only spot not appointed by the governor, is held by newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, who serves as the group’s chair.
 
“I am looking forward to serving with the new proposed state board,” Walters said. “We have big items that we are going to tackle this year and our top priority is ensuring that kids, teachers, and parents are well served.” https://twitter.com/ryanmwalters/status/1612957040392929282
 
NOTE: This story was updated after original publication to include a statement from State Superintendent Ryan Walters. It first appeared online here: https://www.ocpathink.org/post/new-faces-on-state-board-of-education , and is reposted with permission. Ray Carter is a long-time Oklahoma journalist. His stories have often appeared online at City-Sentinel.com.
 
 
 
 
 

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