By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – Piedmont Board of Education incumbent Karen Green has filed for re-election, but she’ll face an opponent this time.
Longtime Piedmont resident Greg Duffy also filed, setting up a Feb. 13 election between the two candidates.
Duffy has set his sights on some critical issues. He said in a prepared statement his main priority is better communication.
“It’s important for the administration to hear from the community. The Board should encourage this communication and be transparent with solutions,” he wrote in the statement. “I moved my family to Piedmont when it was a much smaller community. Now that the school district has grown so much, we have lost some of the transparency and open communication that was once characteristic of this district. I want to see community leaders, patrons, staff, students and alumni have a stronger voice.”
In past years, Duffy has been a supporter of school bond issues, the softball booster club, tennis boosters and Basketball Tip-Off Club and most recently the Oklahoma Special Olympics, where his grandson competes yearly.
“Our community has always been welcoming and supportive. It’s amazing to see how many people come out to the Special Olympics each year. If I can do anything as a Board Member to continue to grow our Special Education resources, I will,” Duffy said.
Duffy retired in 2009 from a successful career in state government, serving 17 years as the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), the longest tenured director in the country at that time. With a budget of more than $15 million annually and 325 full-time employees and hundreds of volunteers, the challenges and goals were met with success. In this role, he worked with the governor, state officials around the state and country, board members and constituents to manage Oklahoma’s wildlife.
“I valued the Wildlife Commissioners, the governing board of ODWC, when I was its Director. It’s important to have checks and balances in any business. I’d like to see more checks and balances in place here on the local level.”
Duffy is familiar with the school district having lived in Piedmont for over 35 years. His three daughters graduated from Piedmont each going on to complete college degrees and two of his four grandchildren currently attend Piedmont Schools. His wife, Jerrie worked for over 25 years at Piedmont Schools serving as Business Manager and Treasurer in her most recent duties before retiring in 2014.
Green said she also has seen the district grow and improve.
“We grow every year by about 200 students, that’s almost a whole grade level. We have this growth because it’s an amazing school district and we have people move here for the district. Some of the things I’ve been involved with over the years have been the AP (advanced placement) classes and concurrent classes at the high school. We are light years ahead of where we were before in making sure they go on after graduation and are productive adults.”
Construction projects and an upcoming renovation of the high school have also passed on her watch with fellow board members. Green said she hopes to have another chance to serve her community.
“I would love to get another term, I love taking care of our students and this is a way I can serve. It’s a way I can take care of the community and most importantly, kids,” she said.
With state funding challenges still looming, Green took aim at Duffy and said she hopes voters will consider the importance of stability on the board.
“There’s a lot to this (board). I have 40 hours of continuing education which is required to serve on the board, and I’m continuing to learn about school finance and school law. It’s not something you can walk into the first day and just start running and when the legislature doesn’t send the money they promised they would send, it’s a bad time to grab someone who is inexperienced,” she said.
Green has been a Piedmont resident for 19 years where she continues to raise her family. She serves on the Piedmont Public Schools Education Foundation, volunteers for booster clubs and band activities and has written grants for the district.