NEW BOARD MEMBER: In March, Lisa Ford, crime prevention specialist and community liaison with the Broken Arrow Police Department, was sworn in as a member of Union Public Schools’ Board of Education, representing Zone 2.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
In February, Tulsa native and Broken Arrow resident Lisa Ford unseated incumbent Patrick Coyle to become Union Public Schools’ Zone 2 board of education member.
Ford, who is the crime prevention specialist and community liaison with the Broken Arrow Police Department, will serve a five-year term. Her zone, or district, encompasses, roughly, the area between 71st and 105th streets and 145th East Avenue and Mingo Road and sits largely within the Broken Arrow city limits, thus creating a perfect illustration of Ford’s reason for running for the board seat.
“The reason that I ran,” says Ford, “is that there are 3,800 Union students who live in the city of Broken Arrow, about one quarter of the school district’s total students.
“Yet, I don’t feel like Union has much representation in the city of Broken Arrow,” she continues, meaning that “there may be opportunities that the school district is missing out on.”
Ford isn’t just referring to financial support from the city of Broken Arrow but also community partnerships and student scholarship and academic opportunities.
For example, Ford sits on the board of the Rotary Club of Broken Arrow, which annually gives dictionaries to all third grade students in Broken Arrow Public Schools.
However, Broken Arrow is also home to four Union elementary schools.
“I hope next year to include those Union elementary schools when we distribute dictionaries,” she says.
In her role with the Broken Arrow Police Department, Ford organizes annual community events, such as Night Out Against Crime, a crime awareness and prevention event held in October along Broken Arrow’s Main Street; Camp Bandage, focused on emergency preparation, to be held May 20 at Chisholm Trail South Park, 4000 E. New Orleans St.; and the Back to School Bash, a health and safety fair held in August.
Ford would like to see more Union students attend these events in the future and see the school district become more involved in community activities, including Broken Arrow’s annual Rooster Days festival, and city programs, such as Broken Arrow Youth City Council.
Ford and the BAPD currently partner with Union’s ROTC program for Night Out Against Crime, in which students help in event clean-up, and BAPD donates $1,000 to the program.
For the 2016-2017 school year, Ford helped to launch student internship opportunities with the BAPD as part of Union’s college and career program.
“During my campaign, I found that many Union patrons didn’t know the amount of students who live in Broken Arrow, and there were other people who, I got the impression, were relieved that this issue is finally being addressed,” she says.
Ford believes that she was elected due to both her platform and the fact that she is still greatly connected to the Union school district through her grandson, who attends Moore Elementary. Ford and her husband also have two children who both graduated from Union High School.
Ford has worked for the BAPD for 16 years, is a past president of the Rotary Club of Broken Arrow, the immediate past president of Broken Arrow Neighbors, sits on numerous boards, and, in December, received the 2016 Community Impact Award from the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce.
With the BAPD, she also manages its Volunteers in Police Service program, a program that she has grown from three to more than 200 volunteers. She has also instructed over 100 other law enforcement agencies on running successful volunteer programs through the Oklahoma Regional Community Policing Institute.
Before she came to BAPD, Ford worked for the Citizens Crime Commission, where she oversaw the Alert Neighbor, Crime Stoppers and Arrest Arson programs.
Ford’s path to the crime commission started with her efforts to clean up graffiti in her neighborhood and to bring neighbors together to deal with vandalism.
“I have a passion for keeping things safe,” she says.
While Ford’s passion for safety becomes easily apparent when she speaks, it is equaled by her enthusiasm for Union Public Schools.
“I love what Union does. Union is not about boundary lines, but it’s about how successful we can make our parents, students and our community,” she says, giving as an example the school district’s GED classes offered through its Adult Learning Center – offerings that many other area school districts do not offer.
“There was a need that Union saw, and they handled it, even with the budget cuts,” Ford says. “They don’t let hurdles hold them back.”
And it is that same passion that Ford sees in Union’s administrators, beginning with Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler.
“You can tell when you talk to Dr. Hartzler that he’s passionate about graduation rates and the students. When I saw that, I thought, ‘I want to be a part of that team and a part of students’ success,’” she says.
For Ford, moving forward, her part will be to give a voice to Union Public Schools with Broken Arrow city and community leaders.
“I think everyone is ready for this, including the (Broken Arrow) city and the chamber, and I want to be the person to make it all happen.”