Editor's Note: This story the two candidates who are running for school board for the Leach School District. Each candidate in this race were given the same questions to answer. The following profile is based upon submitted responses.
Two candidates, Kim Carnes and incumbent Corrie Drake are running for the Leach School Board.
The election takes place on Tuesday, April 2. This is one of two school board elections for southern Delaware County. The other involves the Oaks Mission School District.
Early voting is set for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday, March 28 and 29, at the Delaware County Election Board office at 225 South Fifth Street in Jay. Day of election voting takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 2, at precincts throughout the county.
• Corrie Drake
As the incumbent and a former student at Leach Schools, Corrie Drake wants to continue to serve as a board member for a variety of reasons.
Chief among them, is a desire to keep improving the district, while keeping its traditions.
"I have wonderful memories of my grade school years and formed life long friendships," Drake said. "I want the same for all our Leach students. This is an opportunity to serve the school that gave me so much."
Drake describes herself as a "very analytical person."
"I like as much data and as many facts as possible when making decisions," she said. "Having served three and a half years now, I have a firm understanding of the unique challenges that face a small school district from an administrative perspective.
"There has been a state wide increase of students abandoning traditional public school systems to attend online schools. This shifts money away from traditional public schools. Student enrollment is critical to a school's survival, especially a K-8 school district."
More about Drake
A life long resident of Leach, Drake graduated from Jay High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Northeastern State University.
For the last 10 years, she has worked at Gates Corporation, working her way up to technical service engineer.
Drake and her husband, Cortney, have been married for 12 years. They have two children: Sarah and Joshua, second grade and kindergarten, respectively. Both attend Leach Public Schools.
A member of the Cherokee Nation, Drake and her family attend Lowery Free Will Baptist Church.
Drake sees three issues as priorities for the district's board of education: consolidation, student enrollment and school finances.
"We combat [consolidation] by advocating to the legislature," Drake said. "I've made many phone calls and written many emails on behalf of our K-8 school.
"We also encourage parent involvement when it becomes an issue at the legislature. The community is very supportive of it's school district."
In terms of student enrollment, Drake believes the key involves retention of teachers.
"A lot of area schools valedictorians and salutatorians have come from Leach," Drake said. "We need to keep providing opportunities for students, often thru extracurricular activities that are not offered elsewhere."
Drake also believes being good stewards of the school finances is important.
"We work hard to spend money wisely," she said.
As the incumbent, Drake said she's pleased the current superintendent has become creative in saving money while making necessary cuts.
"The carry over increased this year from the previous year despite inadequate state funding," Drake said. "It really is a team effort. One person can't accomplish anything. It takes the school board and the superintendent working together to accomplish school district goals."
She believes her training, which includes 20-plus hours related to the school board, play a key role in her ability to serve as a board member.
"I work hard to stay up to date on legislation that may affect our school district," Drake said. "It is also critical to know the school policies to ensure compliance with current state laws."
If elected, she will work for the betterment of all children at Leach.
"I want for all our students what any parent would want for their child: a solid education, opportunity, and a safe learning environment," Drake said.
Kim Carnes is running for the Leach School board because she believes her educational experience and knowledge will benefit the district.
"Our school system is the center of our community and the center is where the community is the strongest," Carnes said. "This is where we are serving to educate and develop our students into outstanding citizens. I want to see our strength remain for many years to come."
Carnes said she chose to run, out of a desire to see the school stay united.
"Within a united system the staff members, parents, and community can focus on one thing together and that is educating our children," Carnes said.
More about Carnes
Carnes grew up in Tulsa and is a graduate of East Central High School.
After graduation she attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Northeastern State University. She has a bachelor's degree in education from NSU.
She has taught for 20 years. Her career began in Colcord where she taught third grade for two years; she spent 17 years as a middle school social studies teacher and third grade teacher at Leach, before becoming a teacher within the Epic Charter School program.
Carnes and her husband, Pete, have lived in the county for 22 years. They have two children: Ashley, a sophomore in college, and Mason, a junior in high school. Both of her children children, her husband, and many of his family members attended Leach School.
Carnes believes leadership is a key factor for the Leach School Board of Education.
"The school needs a strong leader," Carnes said. "In recent years, Leach has been unsuccessful in keeping a superintendent.
"If elected as a board member, I will dedicate myself in having a working relationship with the superintendent and the staff to maintain a positive atmosphere.
"We need a leader who knows the community, willing to listen to ideas from others, and having a good rapport with our parents and students."
She would also like to focus on communication.
"Communication is key to everything we do," Carnes said. "As a board member, I would like to see a communication system implemented to help staff, parents, and students in multiple ways."
Carnes said her goal is to help the district address challenges and overcome obstacles to become a successful "unified school system."
"If elected as board member, I will support the community, staff members, and parents to the best of my ability to ensure the best education possible is provided for all students," Carnes said.