Thank you, Jenks School Board
By Eric Fox, Jenks High School Associate Principal
Did you know Children’s Dental Health Month is coming up in February? Not many shopping days left! It makes sense that Children’s Dental Health Month is February to keep it separated from National Candy Month, which we all remember being in June. Did you know that June 6, 2021 is Yo-Yo Day? If not, just look how much you’ve already learned since you started reading this column.
One month that is definitely important in recognition of selfless community service is January which serves as National School Board Recognition Month. According to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, School Board Recognition Month “…honors the efforts of thousands of men and women who help to shape the direction of Oklahoma public education and their collective focus on student achievement. School board members voluntarily tackle the enormous job of governing school districts while preserving the core of our democratic values.”
In a 2018 survey of school board members across the nation, the National School Board Association found the average length of service of a board member is eight years and close to ⅔’s of them received no compensation for their efforts. Most school boards meet twice a month and 53% of respondents said they spent from 7-24 hours per week on board matters. More than 50% said their motivation for participating as a board member was “To ensure that our children’s schools are the best they can be.” Twenty-two percent said their top reason for serving was, “To give back to my community.” Those are student-centered and community focused motives for sure.
Our school board met on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and the minutes reported, “After a thorough discussion…” the board voted to buy a radio for the school. It was a “16 tube #R.P. 16 Phonograph from the Mid-West Radio Corporation” in Cincinnati, Ohio. That was in 1932. I guess the discussion was so thorough they didn’t get all the business taken care of so on the 24th, they met to approve the salaries for the month which totaled $3441.71 and ranged from $8 to $200 for the superintendent, Chancey C. Moore.
Our school board members deal with much larger budgets obviously and more complex issues than the purchase of a phonograph. (Yes, some of you will need to google an image for that). Our board members, Melissa Abdo, Ron Barber, Chuck Forbes, Terry Keeling and Tracy Kennedy, have helped lead the district through the addition of a new school site, redistricting, the review of data on school start times, statewide teacher demonstrations, historic flooding and now a pandemic that is approaching a year in its direct impact on students, staff and our community. Our board is comprised entirely of volunteers who not only serve the district in this capacity but also work in a variety of clubs, school sites and organizations like PTA, booster clubs and even legislative advocacy.
I can’t estimate the number of hours that our board members devote to our students, staff and community. Like the 1932 board they have to engage in thorough discussions, and like other public servants, there are times when people agree with their decisions and times when they disagree. In the quarter of a century I’ve worked in Jenks, I’ve never met a board member in our community who was demanding of their own agenda or not thinking through the lens of what’s best for our kids. In the quarter of a century I’ve worked in public education in this state, I know that is not something to be taken for granted or that happens everywhere.
So, hold off on planning for National Children’s Dentistry Month for a few more weeks and please consider recognizing community members who are serving our students through their efforts on the Jenks School Board and school boards across our state and nation. It seems obvious your work not only serves to preserve the core of our democratic values but also to model them. Thank you Ms Abdo, Mr. Barber, Mr. Forbes, Mr. Keeling and Ms Kennedy. What you do is important and seen.