A former educator and school administrator, Linda O'Dell is seeking the office of Gila County School Superintendent.
"We have an incumbent who has never been opposed in the 16 years she's been in office," the Republican O'Dell said. "It's time for a change. Our schools can do better."
She is focusing her campaign on three issues: improve academic achievement, reduce the dropout rate, and increase available resources.
O'Dell cites two facts which she believes reflect the need for new leadership and increased support for school improvement in Gila County:
- More than 35 percent of the public schools in Gila County, for which there are current data (7 of 19), are identified as "under-performing" by the state. This means that a majority of the students in these schools are failing to meet expected achievement levels.
- Gila County has one of the highest dropout rates in the state, a state in which the dropout rate has increased nearly 10 percent since 1989.
"To improve academic achievement I would raise awareness," O'Dell said. "I'd work with the districts to intervene and identify why there is a problem and help develop strategies to address it. It may require a reallocation of resources."
She said she believes the way to reduce the dropout rate is to keep students active and motivated. O'Dell said another key to keeping students in school is parental involvement.
In addition to her primary issues, O'Dell said she has plans to:
- Establish a countywide task force to develop a strategic plan for education;
- Establish a countywide K-12 Foundation to support and recognize good teachers and schools;
- Establish strong working relationships with community leaders, officials and organizations to facilitate access to needed resources;
- Create programs to establish links outside the school systems with those willing to assist students;
- Provide an annual report on the state of education in Gila County as well as other regular communications with the public.
O'Dell has made her home in the Rim country for four years, but if she is elected, will move to the Globe area to effectively supervise and manage the activities of the office.