The state Board of Education is ripe for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s influence, with nearly all the members’ terms expiring April 2.
On Monday, Stitt appointed Carlisha Williams Bradley to the seat vacated by Dan Keating, who died in November. Bradley is the executive director of ImpactTulsa, an organization that strives to improve students’ education by connecting public school districts with nonprofits, businesses and civic leaders in Tulsa.
Stitt can appoint five more members and is working actively to fill those seats, said Stitt spokeswoman Baylee Lakey. The selection process won’t be completed by April 2, but the current board members will continue to serve until successors are found. Bradley’s and any future appointments will need Senate approval.
Stitt has indicated he is planning to make major changes to the state’s education system, according to a strategic plan revealed by Oklahoma Watch last week. In the short term, his administration is developing a plan to “reorganize” education, and his four-year goals include having the state’s education system “restructured” and nationally ranked in the top 30 (though he frequently touts making the state “top 10” in education).
His picks for the board could have a significant impact on those goals.
The board, which oversees the state Education Department, has sparked controversy in recent years for overriding a local school board’s denial of a charter school application. The state board is now the sponsor of three charter schools, in Norman, Seminole, and an Oklahoma City school expected to open this fall.
Board members have also granted a record number of emergency-certified teacher requests, with more than 3,000 approved this school year.
According to state statute, the governor is to appoint all six members, one representing each congressional district and one member at large, upon taking office. They serve four-year terms.
The current members are Bob Ross, Bill Flanagan, Cathryn Franks, Maj. Gen. Lee Baxter and Bill Price.
Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s position, as the seventh member and chairperson of the board, is the only one not appointed by the governor.