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City Vo-Tech System Gets Its Own School Board

Jim Killackey Published: June 4, 1982

As decreed by the state Legislature, Oklahoma City has a new seven-member board of education.

It is a school board responsible for only three schools, about 1,000 students, 50 full-time teachers and a budget of less than $5 million.

The district it now governs is three years old and has boundary lines coterminous with the Oklahoma City public school system.

The new school panel, which has its first official meeting later this month, oversees the operation of Oklahoma City Vocational-Technical District 22.

The seven board members Lloyd Leveridge, Mel McNickle, Henry Chavez, Elaine Schuster, Warren Gardner, Del Hamm and Floyd Donwerth were appointed to their posts in May by Gov. George Nigh.

They have terms ranging from one to four years, and they must stand for election when their appointed terms expire.

Like representatives from the city public school system, the vo-tech board members represent seven districts from designated geographical areas of Oklahoma City.

Hamm and Donwerth are former members of the city public school board of education.

The bill designed to create the new board was written by Sen. Marvin York, D-Oklahoma City, one of the Legislature's most ardent supporters of vo-tech eduction.

Until this month, the vo-tech board and the city school board had the same members.

According to state Vo-Tech Superintendent Francis Tuttle, the city vo-tech system, created in 1979, needed more autonomy and that could best be attained by a separate school board.

In all instances in the state except Oklahoma City, vo-tech districts cut across public school system boundaries.

For example, the Western Heights, Edmond, Putnam City and Deer Creek school systems comprise one vo-tech district.

In Tulsa County, all schools are under the auspices of a single vo-tech district.

That is done, primarily, to consolidate costly vo-tech programs in specific centers rather than spreading such instruction and training among numerous high schools.

In Oklahoma City, the southside Foster Estes Vo-Tech Center has many of the heavy industry training courses, while the northside Marvin York Center concentrates on office- and business-related occupational training.

Vo-tech districts, by law, also have the responsibility of training adult students beyond the 12th grade.

The city vo-tech board also runs the Adult Training Center at 201 NE 48.

"Our main responsibility is to increase the talent and the productivity of the work force in Oklahoma," Tuttle said.

In separate interviews, the seven city vo-tech board members talked about their roles and responsibilities: Lloyd Leveridge, District 1.

Leveridge, 2425 NW 119, is a local automobile dealer.

"There's a definite need to develop and grow in the area of vocational-technical education," he said. "Not everyone has to be a college graduate."

There are "so many jobs begging for qualified people," Leveridge said.

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