Two perspectives in Oktaha school board race

Meet the candidates

NAME: Richard W. Merritt

OFFICE SOUGHT: Oktaha Board of Education, Seat 5.

AGE: 64.


PROFESSION: Retired from Department of Veterans Affairs, retired licensed professional counselor.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Northeastern State University. Master of Science, counseling and psychology, NSU.

FAMILY: Wife, Barbara; one grown child, four grandchildren.

CHURCH: Liberty Community Church.

HOBBIES: Coaching elementary basketball, reading. Activities with the family.

NAME: Sheree R. Kindred

OFFICE SOUGHT: Oktaha Board of Education, Seat 5.

AGE: 43.


PROFESSION: Works for Department of Veterans Affairs.

EDUCATION: Associate degree from Connors State College. Bachelor’s degree in business administration, Bacone College.

FAMILY: Husband, John; five children; five grandchildren.

CHURCH: Timothy Baptist Church.

HOBBIES: Coaching basketball, gardening, animals.

Key dates

For school board and Tahlequah elections:

• Today. Last day to register to vote.

• Feb. 4. Deadline to request absentee ballot.

• Early voting:

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 5.

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 6

• Feb. 10 election.

Posted: Saturday, January 24, 2015 2:00 am

Two perspectives in Oktaha school board race

By CATHY SPAULDING / Phoenix Staff Writer

Muskogee Phoenix

Oktaha Board of Education member Richard W. Merritt faces a challenge for a sixth term from Sheree R. Kindred.

The election is Feb. 10.

Merritt, 64, has been on the board 25 years and serves as the board’s clerk. He said he is seeking re-election because new leadership at the Oklahoma Department of Education makes this an important “transition year.”

“There are a lot of changes coming down the pike, and I feel my 25 years on the board gives credence to the Oktaha school district,” he said. “When I walk into the state department, I don’t have to wear a name tag.”

Merritt said Oktaha Superintendent Jerry Needham “needs the trust of his board” to carry out his duties.

Kindred, 43, said she’s running because she wants to see the district grow.

“I am a graduate of Oktaha. I have children here. I am proud of my hometown, proud of my community, proud of my school,” she said. “I want to be in touch with the community and school. As parents, we have a duty to be involved.”

Kindred said she also could bring a younger point of view to the board.

She said her qualifications include her accounting background, as well as higher education experience from a previous job at Bacone College.

Kindred said the biggest need for Oktaha Schools is more space.

“There is a need for more land,” she said. “We’re kind of getting locked in as far as existing space. We’re utilizing everything we have.”

Another need is funding “and keeping the school growing,” she said.

Merritt said financing is the biggest issue Oktaha faces.

“We have no revenue from the businesses,” he said, adding that the district must rely on other sources, including the state, for funding.

“We need to be financed to be able to pay teachers and attract the best and keep the best,” Merritt said.

He said the district also has problems dealing with unfunded mandates from the state and federal government.

Merritt said he could help the district meet these needs by continuing to work at the state level, “and to make sure we have good rapport with area legislators.”

Kindred said she could bring a new perspective to the board.

“I’m going to be an advocate for Oktaha Schools,” she said. “I will try to get people on board with what Oktaha is trying to do.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

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Saturday, January 24, 2015 2:00 am.

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Sheree R. Kindred,

Richard W. Merritt,

Oktaha Board,

Jerry Needham,

Oklahoma Department Of Education,

Oktaha School Board,

Oktaha Board Of Education,

Oktaha School District,

Oktaha Superintendent

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