Community Impact Newspaper sent O'Dell a set of questions about her candidacy. This article is part of ongoing May 4 election coverage and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate. Her responses below have been edited for publication style.
Why are you running for re-election for McKinney ISD board of trustees Place 6?
It brings me joy to serve our students, teachers, administrators and community. Since I have been on the board, MISD has lowered taxes and at the same time raised teacher salaries, renovated schools, updated athletic fields and built a new performing art center at McKinney High [School]. We have supplied each high school student their own laptop so they are equipped with the technology they need to succeed. It is my goal to continue to help MISD continue to improve.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
During my 16 years in McKinney, I have served as president and other positions on various boards. I know the importance of communicating and listening, as well as delegating responsibilities to get people to be more involved. Listening to the needs of the teachers, parents and students is one of the most important aspects of the job. I have been an advocate for our community by volunteering at the Samaritan Inn; serving on the Baylor, Scott & White hospital board; and serving at my church.
If re-elected, what would your top priorities be for the district?
I believe that MISD has done a great job over the last four years in improving facilities and the overall educational experience, while at the same time reducing taxes. My top priority is to keep moving MISD in this direction. This means spending money wisely, keeping up with technology, making sure our facilities are in good shape and giving every student opportunities even after high school.
If re-elected, how would you help address those issues?
Offering every child opportunities within a budget is challenging. I will continue to promote MISD partnerships with local businesses to ensure we are graduating students that the workforce wants. Internships and mentors from our community are current programs that meet these needs. MISD also offers numerous career classes in trades, and I will insist that we expand these classes and stay within our budget.
What do you see as the biggest challenges the district will face in the coming years?
As the job market evolves and as technology changes, it continues to be a challenge to prepare our students for the future. All of this must be done while the state continues to decrease funding for education. I will work with leaders in our community to support our students through continued partnerships with local businesses fostering more opportunities.
More information about O'Dell and her campaign can be found at www.swodell.com.