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OKCPS board seat
The application process for the soon-to-be-vacant District 7 OKCPS board seat will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Angela Anne Jones)
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The children of Oklahoma’s largest school district need you — or, more specifically, intelligent and reasonable adults who live in south OKC — to apply for a vacant OKCPS board seat.

You read that right: apply, not campaign. The person who next will serve Oklahoma City Public Schools from District 7 will be chosen by the rest of the OKCPS board after Jace Kirk announced his resignation Sept. 9.

Kirk’s curious departure — way to honor a four-year commitment — will become effective Oct. 9, and potential replacements will have between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1 to submit the required documents for consideration. That means applications open Tuesday, so more on that below.

Amid emotional turmoil, humility would be welcome

The entire school district should hope that quality applicants emerge for this vacant OKCPS board seat. Overseeing a school district is serious and difficult business, and OKCPS is in the middle of a tremendous shift dubbed its Pathway to Greatness.

But subsequent drama surrounding the name of Classen School of Advanced Studies High School at Northeast — replete with lawsuits and shockingly caustic board member exchanges during open meetings — has placed a dark political cloud over district governance.

More than ever, the OKCPS board will need its new member to feature strong, positive qualities, such as:

  • Two ears and one mouth. The old saying is that they were provided to humans in that proportion for a reason;
  • A friendly handshake. Any good OKCPS school board member ends up being well known — by sight and by phone number — to the parents, teachers, administrators and even students at the schools he or she represents;
  • Humility and good humor. All politicians would be good to remember that their service is not about them. In this instance, it is about students and their teachers.

District 7 had only one candidate in 2018

Whoever is selected for the District 7 OKCPS board seat will become the second current member to be chosen via application, with District 4’s Mark Mann being selected from a pool of six applicants in 2017.

Whether that many people apply for the District 7 position remains to be seen. For the 2018 election, Kirk was the only person who filed to replace longtime board member Ron Millican. Now Kirk has decided he no longer wants to represent District 7, which includes nine OKCPS schools:

  • Bodine Elementary
  • Cesar Chavez Elementary
  • Hayes Elementary
  • Lee Elementary
  • Southern Hills Elementary
  • Southeast Middle School
  • Webster Middle School
  • Capitol Hill High School
  • Southeast High School

Surely a parent or other community member with a heart for one or more of these schools would be willing to step up and become a tireless advocate for thousands of south-OKC children? Yes, the Monday-evening meetings are long and have recently been filled with acrimony, but that’s all the more reason that District 7’s students need a positive role model to represent their interests while others bicker.

For those who might be considering a District 7 application, OKCPS released a timeline for the selection process over the weekend:

  • Oct. 1: Beginning of the Period for submitting resumes, applications and declaration of candidacy forms. (Detailed information on submitting an application will be posted on the OKCPS website.)
  • Nov. 1: Final day for submitting required application forms. (Questions should be addressed to Craig Cates, (405) 587-0444, cacates@okcps.org)
  • Nov. 4: During an executive session of the regular board meeting on this date, the OKCPS board will review all resumes and applications completed and submitted by the Nov. 1 deadline (unless the board, at its discretion, selects another date to hold a special meeting for that purpose, in accordance with the Open Meetings Act).
  • Nov. 5: Names and declaration of candidacy forms for all individuals who filed within the application period to be considered for appointment to the District 7 OKCPS board seat will be released to the public.
  • Dec. 8: No later than this date, the OKCPS board will interview applicants and appoint an individual to fill the vacancy during a special board meeting called for this purpose.

Whoever is selected will serve until the February 2021 OKCPS school board election. Then, District 7’s seat will come up for re-election in February 2022.

Here’s hoping quality applicants mark their calendars and prepare to apply. Oklahoma’s largest school district needs you.

OKCPS board seat map

OKCPS board seat
The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board is comprised of representatives from seven separate wards and a chairperson elected district wide. (OKCPS)