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Oklahoma City School Board appoints newest member

The Oklahoma City School Board has appointed one of its youngest members to office in recent years.

Meg McElhaney, 28, was appointed to a vacant seat on the board after an interview Thursday evening. The board voted to appoint her in an open meeting after the interview.

She will take her oath of office Dec. 9 for a term running until February 2021.

The empty seat represents District 7, which covers much of the southeast side of Oklahoma City. Many of the schools in the district are majority Hispanic.

The seat has been open since Oct. 9, when former board member Jace Kirk resigned from office. Kirk moved to a home outside of the district, forcing him to leave office after a year and eight months.

McElhaney is a product of public education, which she said encouraged her to apply for the school board post. She grew up in Davis and graduated from Blanchard High School.

“I believe that if we’re going to keep up with all the growth and opportunities that are coming to Oklahoma City we need to have a workforce and a school system ready to serve that,” McElhaney said. “Which means in the next five, 10, 15 years having people who are equipped to be leading these companies that we’re quickly acquiring in the city.”

A graduate of Oklahoma State University, McElhaney is the vice president of project management at Bridges Strategies and Digital Marketing. She serves on the board of directors for the Capitol Hill Historic District.

Her husband, Forrest Bennett, is a Democrat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. McElhaney said she learned of the open school board seat before Bennett and decided to apply on her own.

“Today, I’m just a proud husband, who came to nervously wait for the result,” Bennett said.

The board also interviewed Wilfredo Santos-Rivera for the position on Thursday. Santos-Rivera served on the school board from 2006 to 2010 and ran against board Chairwoman Paula Lewis for her seat in 2017.

Santos-Rivera also ran against Bennett in the 2016 Democratic primary for House District 92.

Lewis praised McElhaney’s involvement in the Capitol Hill area as a strength on her application.

“I’m just super happy that we have a strong voice, somebody who wants to be engaged,” Lewis said. “She participates on the Capitol Hill board, recognizes what are the barriers there, whether that be language or culture, and is willing to try to be the listener.”

McElhaney said she was excited about the “ambitious plans” that led to Pathway to Greatness, a massive school consolidation plan that took effect this summer.

Superintendent Sean McDaniel, who ushered in the consolidation plan this year, welcomed McElhaney to the district.

“I have only interacted with her a few times, but each time I have been impressed with her thoughtfulness,” McDaniel said. “It is very obvious that she loves kids and has a desire to serve her community. Meg feels a deep obligation to prepare our school system for the next generation.”

Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman in 2019. She found a home at the newspaper while interning in summer 2016 and 2017. Nuria returned to The Oklahoman for a third time after working a year and a half at the Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia,... Read more ›