Voters will decide contested school board races Feb. 9.

In preparation for that, The Ardmoreite sat down with candidates for the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center Zone 2 Seat and the Ardmore City Schools Seat 5. Candidates for each position were asked the same questions. Here are their answers.

 


Voters will decide contested school board races Feb. 9.
In preparation for that, The Ardmoreite sat down with candidates for the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center Zone 2 Seat and the Ardmore City Schools Seat 5. Candidates for each position were asked the same questions. Here are their answers.
 

Incumbent Thomason

1. Why are you running for the SOTC school board?
I’ve been on the board for three terms. In those three terms, the technology center has grown and advanced in the programs we offer. We serve 16 feeder schools, and within that 15 year period, our technology center is viewed in a better light with what our students have been able to take.

The main reason I am running and want to stay on this board is because of the progress we have made with our very professional staff and administration. I want to keep that progress going. I work with four excellent board members and when we get into discussions on what we need to do, it’s a good feeling to be able to contribute.

It’s about the young people of this district and training them to be productive citizens of southern Oklahoma, and if I can be a part of that, then I want to be.

I’ve been on the board for quite some time. When you think about how this will affect our district, our money, and how it will move us forward – when you can answer those in a positive light, you can make those decisions. I also love being a part of policy-making and strategic planning.

2. Now that the bond has passed, how do you feel about the public’s opinion of SOTC?
I think SOTC, in the eyes of our district patrons, has never been better. We are seen in a very positive light. I say that because going around in this campaign and the feedback I have gotten from these five counties. Most often when I say, “Hi, I’m Bob Thomason running for SOTC School Board. they say, ‘Hey you’re doing great things out there, and we’re glad to have this for our kids.’” Throughout the feeder schools, it is generally very positive.

3. What is your opinion on the recent growth of SOTC?
Our growth will be in the area of health, manufacturing and our diesel program.

We secured two grants to expand our biotech program. We’re putting together a state of the art laboratory with very professional instructors.

With the economy the way it is, people can be trained and seek jobs here in southern Oklahoma.
In the last few years, we have been able to install the OSSM program that allows our kids to stay at home and learn.

In looking at our students at the technology center, we did an assessment of business and industry. What they told us was a diesel program where we could give the young men and women of this area the experience to work on diesel trucks. Also they wanted a manufacturing program and we needed to expand our health offering.

We brought on a full time officer with a car to watch our campus. He’s done a great deal to secure our campus. It was something we implemented a couple of years ago and has been terribly important.

4. What would you like to see SOTC do in the future?
Continue OSSM for the future and the partnering with the schools - ECU, Southeastern, OU, OSU, AHEC - and our kids being able to take classes here and get credit for them. When kids leave here, they have credits that will transfer.

We have a safety training program that certifies local workers. Before, they had to go out-of-state to get that training.

We’re looking to establish an extension center in the Healdton-Wilson area in order to offer those people some courses and programs. We have a center at the school in Healdton, but we already have land and we’re planning on building out there.

We have an extension center in Murray County for the Davis-Sulphur area, and we look to grow that program.

Just this past week we looked at property in Marietta for Love County residents.

We also just closed the deal on expanding our main campus to the east with the purchase of 30 acres.

I think as Ardmore grows, and we have new companies and industries that come in, we want to be able to be flexible enough to meet the needs to train their employees. We can do that with the business and industry services team. They would coordinate the needs of those companies and the companies we have now.

Also, being able to offer our senior citizens programs that they are interested in and give them new skills to contribute to society. They are learning computer skills and gardening skills and adding to their skills with the programs we offer at the main campus today.

5. How do you rate the job Dr. David Powell has done as superintendent of SOTC?
Dr. David Powell has done an outstanding job. He is a relatively new superintendent with three years on the job and is already recognized among his 29 (fellow technology center) superintendents. It tells you where you are as a technology center in Oklahoma. They confide in him about the programs, his ability to pass a bond issue and a millage and his leadership in that.
Also, he is an amazing superintendent because of our employee moral. He is an outstanding superintendent because when he came on board, we had to take a hard look at our programs. He had to come to the board with some hard decisions in order to save enough money to have a sufficient financial carryover.

As a result of that first-year assessment, we were able to bring an excess of $300,000 to the bottom line of our operations.

He is a business minded leader and I think he takes a very serious look at the efficiency of the organization and leads that way.

6. What are the challenges facing SOTC and how would you address them?
I think a major challenge that SOTC will face in the future will be the economic challenges and this board being able to put together the strategies and policies to meet the economic challenges. I don’t know what challenges we will be hit with tomorrow, but we will meet those challenges with the board working together.

Also, we have to be able to meet the challenges of the companies coming in. The challenge is being able to meet the needs of those individual companies, and this is where Dr. Powell’s strength is.

7. What are the positives about SOTC?
The biggest positive is where would we be without it. There are so many programs we offer out there for the young people. We have to afford them the opportunity to live where they grew up and don’t have to move to a bigger city to find work. That’s why the bond issue and the millage issue were so important, to offer the young people that opportunity.

 

Challenger Watson

1. Why are you running for the SOTC school board?
I believe it needs common sense and conservative leadership that will provide direction for the future worker training in south central Oklahoma.

Also, I believe in making the educational training system more coordinated and more accessible and more relavant to real life jobs of today, and preparing students for the future should be one of our highest priorities. It is important to make education and technical training more responsive to employer needs and it is equally imåportant to make the vocational, technical and career training system a seamless and transparent part of our local high school, colleges and workforce.
 
2. Now that the bond issue has passed, how do you feel about the public’s opinion of SOTC?
I feel like the majority of the public has a positive feeling of SOTC, and it is important the public is aware of how the money is being used.
 
3. What is your opinion on the recent growth of SOTC?
My opinion of the recent growth is that it has a positive impact on the SOTC service area and hopefully it will continue.
 
4. What would you like to see SOTC do in the future?
I would like to see SOTC continue to work with the public schools in the serving area and also continue its relations with businesses in the area to better serve the needs of its customers.
 
5. How do you rate the job Dr. David Powell has done as superintendent of SOTC?
I think that Dr. Powell has accomplished some positive things at SOTC.
 
6. What are the challenges facing SOTC and how would you like to see them addressed?
Challenges are to keep SOTC one of the premiere training centers in the technical training system and work with David Powell and fellow board members to best utilize resources available to meet that commitment.
 
7. What are the positives about SOTC?
The positive about SOTC is it is another avenue for our high school students and young adults to learn a skill or trade to allow them to go out and find employment to support themselves and their families and to allow individuals in current jobs to be more efficient to improve their jobs.

Incumbent Moore

1. Why are you running for the Ardmore school board?
I am the running for the very same reason I ran before. I¹m running because I love the children and I want them to have a quality education. I have no personal agenda. Both my sons graduated from Ardmore and got very good jobs.

I am very interested in, not only the quality of the education, but in the facilities and where the kids have to have classes. I think we have quality teachers and I think our buildings should match.

2. With the failure of the bond issue and continuing cuts in state funding, the district faces many financial challenges. How would you like to see this challenge meet - cuts in services and/or programs, personnel adjustments, staff furloughs, four-day weeks or some other method?
I would like to see all of us work together to come up with the best solutions. There will have to be some cuts, but if everyone pools their resources then maybe we will find a solution without having to do personnel cuts or so many personnel cuts. It is my hope that we not cut people.

There may be a way to save that we haven’t seen before, but it will take all of us working together. One avenue maybe to do larger classes.

I would like to see cost effective ways at every location, hopefully, we can come out of it without having to cut a person, but it will take all of us working together.

3. The last bond issue did not receive a majority of the votes. How would you promote a bond issue in order to see it receive the 60 percent super majority?
I would hope that we can have parental involvement this time because, it will involve their children, and get the message out and get a little bit more coverage.

4. The controversy over the “super-elementary” versus retaining the old elementary schools is well known. First, what is your position on this issue, and second, how would you personally like to see it resolved?
Personally, I would like to see a new school but that did not work. So I would like to see every child in a school that is secure and safe and conducive to learning. If it requires remodeling then that is something we should look at. If they can’t be in a new building than we need to update the ones they are in. I am open to any suggestions. It will take the whole community working together. With the recession and budget cuts, it will require the entire community working together.

I would like to see everyone put their personal feelings aside and do what works best for the children.

5. Do you think there is a communication issue concerning the school board and school patrons? What ways do you propose to improve communication?
I think we have tried very hard to get communications out. I’m not sure we have done all we can and I believe that with anything you can improve.

6. How do you rate the job Dr. Ruth Ann Carr has done as superintendent of Ardmore City Schools?
I think that she has done a very good job with little resources, and I think she has a passion and the heart for the children. I think that she will do everything in her power to continue Ardmore’s high standard of education.

7. What are the other challenges facing Ardmore City Schools and how would you address them?
I think the budget cuts are our biggest challenge right now, and it will require everyone working together and that may still not be enough because we continue to see cuts but we need to continue to pool our resources. We are going to have to get past any barrier to get what job needs to be done done and we need to stay as positive as possible.

8. What are the positives about Ardmore City Schools?
I think the positives are that we have wonderful children and great teachers. I think the teachers are very, very dedicated in helping our children move forward. And that’s a great positive because if you have great teachers, you’ll have good students.

 

Challenger Tiller

1. Why are you running for the Ardmore school board?
Because of my passion for children, the faculty and staff and the City of Ardmore. I feel Ardmore is pregnant with potential and I can help government.

I’m not running against an opponent. I’m running for that seat.
 
2. With the failure of the bond issue and continuing cuts in state funding, the district faces many financial challenges. How would you like to see this challenge met – cuts in services and/or programs, personnel adjustments, staff furloughs, four-day weeks or some other method?
First, there must be an honest and forthright analysis of where we are before there are any cuts or shortening of the school year. We must find out if we are using things to the best of our ability. We must make good choices in this area, then weigh those mandates that need to be eliminated against where we are and where we need to go. We don’t need to cut anything that we need in the future. We need honest and hard analysis as we move further.
 
3. The last bond issue did not receive a majority of votes. How would you promote a bond issue in order to see it receive the 60 percent super majority?
I believe before we promote a bond issue, we must understand the heart of those who decide the issue. Those are the voters. We must understand the voters before we move forward. We can do that by allowing the unrestrained voice of the citizens of Ardmore at school board meetings.
I think it is imperative that we allow that input and appreciate the passion of those that vote on any bond issue.
 
4. The controversy over the “super-elementary” versus retaining the old elementary schools is well known. First, what is your position on the issue, and second, how would you like to see it resolved?
My position on the school is our concern first ought to be the students and second those that educate our students. My position is give our children the best, be it sustaining our present facilities or building new facilities. If the environment is not conducive to learning, then neither old nor new buildings do us any good. So, I want the best for our children and the faculty we entrust our children to for the better part of the day.
 
5. Do you think there is a communication issue concerning the school board and school patrons? What ways do you propose to improve communication?
I think there is a communication issue and one way to improve communication is to open school board meetings with open and passionate dialog. Also, open deliberation during those meetings versus ideas and decisions being dealt with in executive session which is closed to everyone.

Then, we have a television channel, but there needs to be more parental involvement to ease the apathetic mindset in place and that should include rebuilding the parent-teacher team efforts in education. We have a booster club for the football team and a booster club for the basketball team and most sports. I think the English department and all academic parts of the school should have parents to booster them. We must bolster that among faculty and staff and administrators and most of all parents.
 
6. How do you rate the job Dr. Ruth Ann Carr has done as superintendent of Ardmore City Schools?
I have not had the ability to see the parameters of her hire, therefore I am not able to give her a numerical or letter grade. All I can say is that our school system is not the best that it has the potential of being, with the numbers of teachers leaving the system — some of our academic performances. Therefore, I don’t know how to grade at this juncture, but I know we could and should do better. Instead of grading Dr. Carr, we should grade the school board and that’s why I’m running.
 
7. What are the other challenges facing Ardmore City Schools and how would you address them?
Recruitment and retaining quality employees —  we need to strengthen that effort – actively seek out the best and brightest to be employed in this system. There is a dire need for a positive environment that’s conducive to learning, good order and discipline. This could be done by the hiring of quality personnel and good site principals and strengthening their resolve.

The restoration of integrity and trust and to rebuild the reputation as an exemplary school district. The way to answer this is to be an active citizen and run for the school board.
 
8. What are the positives of Ardmore City Schools?
ACS is a great school system, but just like any other vehicle, it needs that periodic tune up. It has a great student population and fantastic faculty and staff. We have wonderful high school facilities and excellent middle school facilities, and it’s in a great community.