Bixby School Board in Tune with District
By EMILY RAMSEY
STUDENTS FIRST: Bixby Public Schools board members meet for a recent board meeting. From left, Wendell Nolan, Lisa Owens, Lisa Kramer, Ron Schnare and Bryan Wiesman.
GTR Newspapers photo
“To me, the school board is the embodiment of ‘local control,’” says Lisa Kramer, who is currently serving in her fifth year as a school board member, “where we have local parents and community members who are vested in our community trying to make the best possible decisions for our youth.”
The Bixby Public Schools Board of Education is made up of five members who each serve as representatives of a portion of the school district. Members are elected to their seat, serve five-year terms and receive no pay for their services.
“The school board is one of the greatest community ways to volunteer,” says school Superintendent Kyle Wood. “The school board is vital in instituting policy and direction for the school district; members have to have a commitment to the vision of looking for the betterment of the district and the students.”
Kramer’s daughters have both gone through the Bixby school system and during those years, Kramer volunteered in a number of ways such as with the and the Booster Club.
“The school board was a logical step in my volunteer progression, and I felt like I had the experience and knowledge to be a contributing member,” she says.
One of the recent accomplishments of the school board that Kramer holds highest is the district’s implementation of the accelerated math program, where fifth and sixth grade students who are high achieving in math have the opportunity to enroll in a condensed math program that allows them to be ready to enroll in algebra I in seventh grade, as opposed to eighth grade.
“The 2014 school year is the fourth year that the program has been in place, and enrollment has grown from approximately 20 students in the first year to 82 students this year,” says Kramer. “Students in this program will be able to take calculus and other higher level math classes during their high school years, which will better prepare them for college.”
Bryan Wiesman joined the school board in 2006 after he was approached by a local patron about joining. Being in the industry of home construction, Wiesman takes particular interest in the school district’s facility needs and managed growth but is most proud “of our annual increases in students’ academic achievements,” he says.
“This is a great school district with a wonderful staff and caring and involved parents and community.”
Wendell Nolan, a Bixby graduate, decided that joining the school board was the way he would give back to the community that gave him so much growing up, he says.
Nolan joined the board in 2009 and takes particular pride in two things: one, being a part of the 2010 bond issue, which “gave the district the ability to add much needed additional classroom space to the district;” and two, “watching our staff and students continue to excel in the classroom and to raise individual test scores and overall school grades to some of the best in the area and state,” he says.
As a school board member, Nolan recognizes the importance of considering both the present and the future in his decisions. “I feel my most important responsibility as a school board member is to be thinking, what will our districts needs look like in 10, 15 or 20 years, and what do we need to be doing today to meet those needs in the future,” he says.
Also part of the board are Lisa Owens, who joined the board in February of this year, and Ron Schnare.
“We have board members with a variety of backgrounds in education, construction, finance,” says Wood, “and experience from brand new to some who are in their second term.”
As the school district continues to experience growth, another bond issue will come to the voters in February 2016, which will include construction of additional schools: an elementary and intermediate school on 151st Street and a 7th grade center near Sheridan Road and 121st Street. Once that is complete, the current middle school will turn into an 8th grade center.
Also included on the bond issue will be new construction and renovations to the high school, which still has portions that were built in the 1930s and 1950s, says Wood.