Jessica Cifuentes, OKCPS Ward 3
Jessica Cifuentes won a seat on the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education after beating incumbent Cary Pirrong on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (NonDoc)

Challenger Jessica Cifuentes ousted Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education District 3 incumbent Cary Pirrong today in a low-turnout race that featured only 350 people participating.

With 233 ballots cast in her favor, Cifuentes won with 66.5 percent. Pirrong garnered 117 votes.

A 25-year-old ASTEC Charter School and Emory University graduate, Cifuentes currently recently accepted a teaching position at Mount St. Mary High School through the end of the semester.

As a bilingual Latina, Cifuentes told NonDoc that she was running in order for the board to better represent OKCPS’ student and family populations.

With Superintendent Sean McDaniel set to resign June 30, Cifuentes will joint a board currently conducting a national search to find his replacement.

Pirrong, 58, was first appointed to the board in 2022. He is a lawyer and community leader and serves as the administrative director of the Oklahoma Board of Bar Examiners and previously served as the director of equity and compliance for Oklahoma City Community College. He is an OKCPS graduate.

Western Heights, Deer Creek elections

In another OKC-area school district, incumbent Teresa Lewis beat LaCosta Herion for the Western Heights Public Schools board District 4 seat. That race also had low turnout, with  Lewis achieving 45 votes to Herion’s 22.

Neither campaign seemed to have much of an online presence, although Lewis made one Facebook post asking for votes March 27.

Lewis was appointed to the board last year after three controversial board members abruptly resigned in November 2022, leading the State Board of Education to end its months-long takeover of the district.

In Deer Creek Public Schools, James Gibbs beat Paul Elder for the District 4 board seat with 53.8 percent of the 366 votes cast. Gibbs prevailed by 28 votes.

While neither candidate seemed to have much of an online campaign, both answered questions for an online Facebook group forum.

Gibbs is a parent of Deer Creek students and said he feels that the district’s biggest issue is teacher burnout.

Numerous districts vote on bond proposals

Across the state, several school districts had bond proposals up for consideration. School bond initiatives must receive at least 60 percent voter support to pass.

In Piedmont, voters approved a pair of proposals totaling $112.98 million.

According to the district’s website, “this proposal includes funding for the construction of new elementary and intermediate schools, saferoom spaces that double as classrooms at Stone Ridge Elementary, improvements for the Pride of Piedmont band program, and many other projects.”

Shawnee voters also overwhelmingly approved two bond proposals totaling $34 million. The money will go toward a new elementary school, new and updated sports facilities and other projects.

Additionally, Woodward Public Schools voters approved a $5 million transportation bond for buses and fleet vehicles.

Some other districts that also passed bond proposals include Byng, Clinton, Enid, Guymon and Prague.

School districts whose bond proposals failed to pass include Hulbert, Indianola, Liberty and Wetumka.