The Edmond Sun

February 8, 2014

OUR VIEW: Votes needed Tuesday

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Voters in the Edmond Public Schools’ District 4 seat will be asked to make a choice Tuesday at the ballot box.

Running for Edmond Board of Education are Cynthia Benson and Stephanie Bills. This is for a five-year term of service on the board and replaces the seat vacated last year by longtime board member George Cohlmia. Bills was appointed by the Board of Education last spring to fulfill the remainder of Cohlmia’s unexpired term.

The Board of Education’s job is to hold the school district’s management team accountable, oversee the district’s budget and policy decisions as well as approving hiring and firing decisions made by management. The board also engages in long-term planning for the district’s growth by executing a plan for bond issues and votes on construction projects.

Both Benson and Bills are qualified for the position of being a board member.

Bills has experience in both public schools and in the CareerTech system, where she is now human resources director for MetroTech. She is a former coach in Edmond, certified to be a principal and is pursuing a superintendent’s certification. She is a longtime educator who understands the classroom and the needs of management. She is an expert in human resources, which is a benefit to a district where 93 percent of its budget goes to salaries.

Benson is a trained dietitian who has taught classes at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. She worked for several years in her field before deciding to fully devote her time to her family. Since then, she has been involved at her sons’ school in a number of volunteer capacities.

On paper, Bills looks like the more qualified candidate. However, in meeting with both candidates, we believe that Benson shows the critical thinking skills and analytical ability necessary to serve the Edmond district well. She is concerned about reform fatigue among educators and is open-minded in seeking balanced solutions to many of the district’s problems.

Shrinking state funding and ensuring the implementation of new state laws, especially the social promotion law regarding third-grade reading skills, are thorny issues that will face every Oklahoma school district in the next five years. We need to make sure the best problem solvers are on the Board of Education.

We believe Bills and Benson both have experience and ability to serve well, but we’re intrigued by Benson’s thoughtful analysis of the most critical problems facing the district. She has the time, the passion and energy to serve with distinction and we hope voters will give her a chance to do so.

The most important issue facing registered voters this Tuesday is that they actually go to the polls and vote their conscious. We encourage District 4 voters to cast their ballot for the district’s future.