Ogletree hopes to see "big picture" despite divisions in school board
Where were you when you found out you won re-election?
Actually, I was at my home and I saw the early voting totals, and I guess I kind of didn't know I had actually won, but the margin was so large that I assumed it was going to be a victory. Later on, we went to Capriccio's—that's where we met for our victory celebration. That's when we kind of really felt for sure victory was at hand. I was exhausted but I was elated.
Why do you think you were re-elected?
I believe it was a collective effort between citizens in the community. It first started off with the PAC, who were very passionate about the school district. I think it was the teamwork between Don Ryan and Bob Covey and myself, and of course my wife was a great asset. We had some people from our church to volunteer, and it was just great. The collective effort of the citizens of this district, people were coming together form all over saying, "Hey we support this district and we love you."
What are the most important personal qualities that you think you bring to this position?
Well, of course, I've served two terms, so I am pretty much, from an experience standpoint, aware of the issues that the district faces and how those challenges are being met, and I am a team player. I believe.... that we work in harmony with the superintendent, not against him, for the betterment of the schools. I'm a team-builder and a person who believes in working together for the good. And a strong advocate in public schools. I am a leader. I pastor a church, and I help many families in my church who are raising children, and lead them from a spiritual standpoint. God has given me a leadership ability that I can influence people and encourage poeple and challenge people and correct people and lead them to a common goal.
What specific issue would you say is your main priority going forward?
Of course, as was stated in the Chronicle and everything, our number-one issue is to be dealing with our funding— do we have to make more cuts, will we get more funding from the state, how to be more efficient with the dollars that we have. Those are the major priorities. I think one that is looming is really making sure that we take care of the issue of bullying, which is spreading, and I'm happy with the schools that are really getting on board with that, having different programs to teach children to value our differences, and that aggressive behavior and taunting and all that type of stuff should not be done. I think the district is on the right path to try and assure our parents and students that we are going to take that issue head on. It is a national issue. It is here with us and we have to aggressively confront it and deal with it. The other issue is that we keep the quality of teacher staff that we have and make sure that our teachers feel valued and make sure that we keep salaries and benefit packlages conducive for the workforce that we have that we desperately need.
What accomplishments are you most proud of from your previous work on the board?
Well, I would have to go all the way back to selecting [Superintendent] David Anthony.... When you look back to what the district has faced with inadequate funding, exponential groth, shifting demographics.... the person who's at the helm, running the day-to-day affairs of the district, is so important. That was the most important decision that we've made. I think that is primary. The others are secondary: those where we've trimmed budgets to make sure the district remains balanced, and to keep our fund balance growing, and approving various policies and personel.
What have you learned in previous terms that will help you in the next one?
Well, I've learned a lot this last go-round. One of the things I would say, the main thing I learned, is that having a personal agenda is not a conducive for having a good school board, that I cannot bring my own personal agenda to the board. I cannot look at things in a narrow view. I have to be much broader and look at the big picture, look at the overall school district and what is happening and what needs to be done.
How will you approach your position differently in the coming term?
I would not say differently. We do have a challenge with trying to be cohesive. This last election, I really went into areas that we never experienced before as a board. We had existing board members who were supporting opponents, and that's something we've never experienced before. We've always stayed out of races because we were always supposed to be the "team of eight." I think that's gonna be a challenge, after the election is over now, is try to function with the very open division on the baord, and working with the board members that attempted to get you defeated. That has never happened before.