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Owasso School Board Welcomes New Member

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

WARD 3 REPRESENTATIVE: Neal Kessler, left, ran unopposed for the Owasso School Board of Education Ward 3 seat in the Feb. 13 election. He will be installed to the board on March 12. He is pictured with Owasso Superintendent Dr. Clark Ogilvie.


EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers


Neal Kessler, father of four Owasso Public Schools students, will be installed to the Owasso School Board of Education Ward 3 seat on March 12.

Kessler ran unopposed in the Feb. 13 election for the seat that had been held for 15 years by retired educator Gail Ballinger.

Kessler is a stay-at-home dad and a landscape architect.

His children range in grades from 10th to second, something that he believes puts him in a unique position to serve the Owasso school district and patrons.

“We have had our children come through many of the school sites; my wife and I volunteer at the schools and talk to the teachers,” he says, “so I think I have a current perspective of what we’re seeing in the school district now.”

Kessler and his family have lived in Owasso since 2007; his wife is an Owasso graduate.

After Kessler heard that the Ward 3 seat would soon be available, he and his family decided in November that he would run. But it was not a decision made lightly, says Kessler.

Sometimes people don’t realize the depth of responsibility the school board has, he says, noting the student sexual scandal that has recently taken place at Bixby Public Schools.

Still, “I feel it’s important as a member of the community to take this on,” he adds. “I want to be a part of helping the growth that’s happening here in the best way.”

The city of Owasso is growing and so is the school district, says Superintendent Dr. Clark Ogilvie. Currently, Owasso Public Schools has just under 10,000 enrolled students with a total capacity of 10,400.

To increase capacity, a $57 million bond issue was passed in October with $23.5 million allotted to build Morrow Elementary, which will sit on 116th Street North between 129th East Avenue and Highway 169. Also helping with capacity will be the construction of a science wing on the High School West campus.

Another area of focus for the school board continues to be technology, says Kessler.
For technology needs, $3 million of the recent bond issue was set aside: “This was our first bond issue ever to have more funding going to technology than to textbooks,” Ogilvie says.

Currently, all high school students, grades 9-12, have Chromebooks.
“My second grader works with iPads at school,” says Kessler.

As Kessler prepares to begin his term, he is looking forward to playing a role in ensuring that Owasso students are well served, he says.

“The district already does a wonderful job with what it has. My main goal with the school board is to continue to help to grow it better and give the best educational experience to students by helping teachers,” he says.

Updated 02-28-2018

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