New leadership in OKC School District

Wednesday, February 6th 2008, 6:52 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

The school board has a pair of new faces with fresh ideas.

Long-time board member Joe Clytus was defeated in last night's election by Steve Shafer. Phil Horning won the other election filling a vacant seat on the school board.

Both say they want change and they believe new faces can bring a new perspective. They want to start with filling the superintendent's post.

When Steve Shafer takes over the District 4 seat on the Oklahoma City School Board, he will be the board's youngest member. The 37-year-old works as a financial planner, but he's also the father of two young children.

"On average, our district is falling way behind where it should be on the basis of our resources, manpower, and knowledge," Shafer said. "We need to get all that right and improve the quality of education and I want my kids to have the benefit of that but there's some work to be done."

Shafer's election comes in the wake of the investigation surrounding former superintendent John Porter and allegations of financial mismanagement. That controversy led to Porter's and Board Chairman Cliff Hudson's resignations.

"We're now searching for our sixth superintendent in seven years. It's going to be very important that we probably don't go through the same pipeline or we might get the same result," Shafer said.

The other new board member is 66-year-old Phil Horning. He'll fill the District 3 seat which was already open. Horning is a retired attorney and the father of two adult children.

Choosing a new superintendent is high on his list as well.

"We've got to get our leadership installed and I see that as the first priority," Horning said.

Horning says he also wants to get more adults involved in reading to elementary children and improve the overall image of Oklahoma City schools.

"It's a challenge, the Oklahoma City schools are challenged, there's no question about it, but I'm just optimistic that we can do some good and I'm really looking forward to it," Horning said.

The Board Chairman is a district-wide elected position that cannot be filled until February of 2009. Until then, the vice- chair will carry out the chairman's duties when conducting business.