EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two profile stories featuring the two candidates for the Edmond Public School District 4 board seat. On Jan. 21, read about incumbent Stephanie Bills.
Cynthia Benson is running for the Edmond Public School District 4 board member position, which will be decided by Edmond residents in District 4 on Feb. 11.
The District 4 spot is currently filled by Stephanie Bills, who was appointed by the seated board members to replace George Cohlmia. Cohlmia stepped down early in 2013 so his daughter might fill a teaching position in the district. Elected board members fulfill a five-year term with one member’s term expiring each year. The board oversees the district’s budget, policies, construction projects, purchases, contracts and reviews personnel matters such as hiring and firing.
Benson, 44, said she originally thought about running for the school board member position in the summer when friends started calling her asking her if she might be interested.
With two children in middle school, Benson said she has always wanted them to go out and pursue whatever they wanted to achieve.
“I chose to say home and use my gifts, skills and talents to benefit and enrich my community,” Benson said. “I have been blessed to have the opportunity to do so.”
As a volunteer in her community, Benson said she has developed a heart for all children, especially those who might get lost in the system, to make sure they have all of the advantages that are available to them.
“I have also realized it is important to make sure parents know all of the options available to them in planning their child’s education,” Benson said. “I also want to make sure our children graduate ready to work in a global economy.”
An active volunteer in the Edmond Public School District for the past nine years, Benson said she has helped in the school with anything that needed to be done from making copies, helping organize fundraisers and school parties, to serving on the Big Budget Committee for the school’s PTO (Parent Teacher Organization).
She also helps pack 55 backpacks each week for the children in her school who are eligible for free and reduced nutrition programs.
“We are blessed to have great schools, wonderful teachers and skilled administrators,” Benson said, “and parents who are bridging the gap helping whenever and wherever they can.”
She has two sons, Blake, who is in the eight grade and Grant in the sixth grade at Summit Middle School.
As a board member, Benson said she realizes one of the greatest challenges for the board will be in keeping up with the district’s growth.
Benson said there are numerous programs in the district that expose the students to a way of choosing a better life including selecting from a large number of elective options in the middle schools, learning coding on computers in the high schools, choosing extra-curricular activities that give opportunities to explore, and the STEM program.
A product of a public education in Oklahoma, Benson said she recognizes its value.
She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma in clinical dietetics, while working full time to put herself through school.
She married Brent Benson, her husband of 21 years, while he was finishing his master’s degree in engineering at OU. She worked as a clinical dietitian in Arkansas and Missouri while her husband was part of a leadership program with AT&T, before returning to Oklahoma in 1997. Although they could have stayed in Missouri, Cynthia and her husband chose to move back to Oklahoma to be near family and raise their children.
She worked as a clinical dietitian at Deaconess Hospital, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and as a practicum instructor at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center prior to she and her husband starting their family.
While taxpayers in Edmond have been generous in approving bond issues for improvements, Benson is concerned about funding levels in general, especially how funding cuts at the state level might impact the school district in the future.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 11 in District 4. Edmond’s District 4 begins at the intersection of 15th Street and Boulevard and extends south to 33rd, west to Kelly Avenue, south to Memorial Road, east to Eastern Avenue/Boulevard Street, south to one-half mile south of Memorial Road, west to a point one-half mile west of Meridian Avenue, north one mile to a point located one-half mile north of Memorial Road, east one mile to a point located one-half mile east of Meridian Avenue, north to 15th and east on 15th Street to Eastern Avenue/Boulevard.
TO CONTACT Benson, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.cynthiabenson4edmondschools.com.