A new bill to change the school board

Friday, January 25th 2008, 10:21 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

A lawmaker wants to see a change in the makeup of the school board.

The position in question is the chair of the school board.  The position Cliff Hudson held up until this week.

At a community meeting filled with citizens concerned about the recent upheaval in Oklahoma City school leadership, State Senator Connie Johnson spoke about a bill she has introduced for the next legislative session.

"This bill would literally undo the present law that says that Oklahoma City and Tulsa can choose an alternative way to choose a school board president," Johnson said.

By law, only school districts with more than 30,000 students can elect a chairman, other districts have presidents.  There are only two districts that qualify for a chairman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

The option to elect a chairman appeared on the books in 2000, when Shelly Shelby from the State School Board Association said the Oklahoma City School District was struggling to pass a bond issue.

"They needed something to infuse some community involvement in their district," Shelby said.

She said the position was intended to build up support for the schools with a person who had strong ties to the business community.  The entire district voted, and in came Cliff Hudson, CEO of Sonic.  

Shelby said the chairman position has served Oklahoma City well.

"They have passed bond issues. They did maps for kids, donations to the schools have increased substantially," Shelby said.

Senator Johnson's bill calls for an end to the elected chair of the board position.  By law, there is already an option to get rid of the position, either by a special election petitioned by the people, or called for by the school board.

Leaders in the Oklahoma City School District said they are reviewing the bill.

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