Incumbent Schroeder facing challenger Young in Office No. 4 election
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Board of Education – much like its city council – has seen a lot of transition in recent years, as longtime members have taken their leave, as new representatives have taken the helm. Next Tuesday, voters will decide if the board is staying their current course or if more change is in the wind.
That decision will be made during an April 2 general election that determines the winner of the Mustang BOE Office No. 4 seat – incumbent Chad Schroeder or challenger Barbara Young. Voters in February already made that determination in another district office, as Todd Lovelace was selected to continue his service to the board.
With Mustang board changes, Schroeder’s 2016 appointment – and subsequent election in 2017 – means he is currently only second in seniority to president Jeff Landrith and Schroeder, in fact, is current board vice president.
A district sales representative with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the 47-year-old Schroeder and his wife Leslie moved to Mustang 20 years ago. Before his board service, Schroeder was part of the district’s long range planning committee, charged with studying not only Mustang’s needs, but also formulating suggestions for how to meet those needs. That was a chance to see what the district was about – and a way to give back to the community his family loves, Schroeder said.
“Now we are seeing the committee’s plans in action with each project being completed since the passing of the largest bond issue in Mustang Public School history,” Schroeder said. “I have had the opportunity to serve (as a school board member) during a time of unprecedented community growth resulting in significant growth within our schools – as a board member I have worked along with fellow board members to make significant decisions regarding bond approvals, building schools, hiring a superintendent, student safety, competitive teaching salaries, policy changes and maintaining financial stability.”
Schroeder said he wants to continue serving the district and community, but particularly the students, who have been on the ground with a host of recent changes and expansion projects. The board vice president wants to be part of completing what he helped start – those projects still pending or ongoing, as well as administrative changes put in place under the current board.
“Good things are happening at Mustang Schools and there are several projects I would like to see completed including building a performing arts center, a new middle school, building a practice field for the band and a wrestling room for our wrestling team,” Schroeder said. “A challenge is our unprecedented growth as previously mentioned. It’s imperative we keep track of where growth is occurring and respond accordingly with our resources and evaluate current and potential bonds to address the needs of the students, district and community.”
Other district challenges include maintaining academic excellence and student safety, the latter addressed in part in recent months with the appointment of Jennifer Newell to the new post of school safety and security director; Mustang board members also approved doubling security personnel throughout the district.
“When making decisions that impact our schools, my priorities are simple and they are students, the school district and the Mustang community – when a decision needs to be made and it positively impacts all three, everyone wins,” Schroeder said. “To meet the challenge of maintaining district academic excellence, we need to continue to attract and retain the best teachers – it’s also vital to maintain a strong viable curriculum and ensure all programs including academic, athletic and fine arts are fully supported.”
The Schroeder’s have three children attending Mustang Public Schools – high school junior Cade, freshman Abby and Brynnlie, enrolled in pre-K.
Barbara Young’s job could be said, in a sense, to mirror the recent experience of Mustang Public Schools – facing an unprecedented planned growth spurt, under Young’s tenure of manager of construction services, Love’s Travel Stops have built more than 300 location and is poised to undertake an initiative expected to double the company’s size by 2020, she said.
That experience – and Young’s work advocating for youth in volunteer capacities for organizations ranging from Mustang High School Nightriders band boosters, as Central Oklahoma Parents Legislative Action Committee parent advocate and Junior Achievement of Oklahoma to YWCA facilities committee volunteer and community investment volunteer for United Way of Oklahoma – has been a way for the Mustang mother and business woman to advocate for all children.
Moving toward a possible school board seat seemed like the logical next step, Young said – and a way to pay back a district that has graced her family.
“Moving into the Mustang School District in 2007 has turned out to be such an amazing blessing for our family – the educators, administrators and staff helped right away to make our family whole again after a very difficult season,” Young said. “I am running because I owe this district/community a debt that I continue to look for ways to repay.”
Young said she believed the district’s greatest single challenge was staffing, something that impacted students on a day-to-day basis, with shortfalls providing problems for teachers, staff and administrators alike.
“My priorities align with district priorities to support student outcomes with the best teachers, administrators, and staff to get the job done,” she said.
Other priorities for the board candidate were district and public education funding as a whole, possible to payments for school lunch programs and more concentration on technical and trade options after a student’s high school graduation.
“My priorities are to act as a watch dog for responsible use of public funding and advocate for adequate funding of public education; to evaluate the possibility of free school lunches for all students through grants and community partnerships; and to develop opportunities for students to consider skilled trade occupations as a career or as a path to pay for college,” she said.
Young and her husband Michael have five children; the couple’s two youngest attend Mustang High School, Robert as a sophomore and Gabe a freshman.