Burkey leaving for Oklahoma City

By Carolyn Cole
Published on August 30, 2008

Jim Burkey is the third top administrator to leave Mustang for the Oklahoma City School District in two months.

Burkey said he will start in Oklahoma City Sept. 15 as chief operating officer; his last day in Mustang is Sept. 12. He started in Mustang 35 years ago, teaching English and history at Mustang Middle School.

Since then he has worked as Mustang Middle School counselor, assistant principal and principal at both MMS and Mustang High School until becoming an administrative assistant in 1994, overseeing building and bond issue projects, transportation and maintenance. While that position has changed titles during the last 14 years, he said his duties remained almost the same.

“It was a very difficult decision, and I spent some wonderful years here,” he said. “I am very appreciative of our staff and patrons. It’s a great school system, educated both of my children (Mike and Kim). They got the finest public school education they could possibly get.”

Burkey follows former Mustang Superintendent Karl Springer to Oklahoma City Schools, where Springer took the top post in July. Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Cindy Schmidt made the move to the Oklahoma City School District in August.

In the Oklahoma City Schools, the chief operating officer is one of three top administrators who answers directly to the superintendent. Burkey will oversee the financial services, school operations and human resources departments.

Burkey said he intends to continue living in the Westbury Addition, and his wife Judi Burkey plans to remain active in the local garden club and Friends of the Mustang Public Library.

“The house is almost paid for — I’m not going to move,” he said.

His family ties run deep in the area, Burkey said — his mother’s family homesteaded between what is now Will Rogers World Airport and Wheatland.
However taking the Oklahoma City job is a homecoming of sorts too, Burkey said, because he lived in the Gatewood Addition near NW 23rd Street and North Classen Boulevard in his youth.

After graduating from Bishop McGuinness in 1963, Burkey obtained an education degree with an emphasis in history and English before entering the Army in 1968. Stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, he was among the federal troops airlifted to Chicago to the 1968 National Democrat Convention on standby to maintain the peace.

Then Burkey was deployed with the 9th Infantry as a section chief of a 105 mm howitzer battery stationed in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

When he returned, Burkey sought his master’s degree in guidance and counseling and took his first teaching position at Lindsay where he worked for three years before taking the Mustang position.
Burkey started at Mustang Middle School in the 1973-1974 school year, teaching in a newly opened facility, which now houses Mustang Mid-High.
During his first year, Burkey said Mustang had 340 students in sixth- through eighth-grade. This week, 1,883 students attended class on the Mustang North and Mustang middle school campuses.

During his tenure, Burkey has overseen the construction of Mustang Creek Elementary, Mustang Middle School and Mustang Centennial Elementary, as well as classroom additions, remodeling projects and repairs at every school site in the district. Mustang has also built Mustang North’s fieldhouse under Burkey’s leadership, as well as constructing softball, baseball and soccer facilities, remodeling the MHS gymnasium and installing an artificial playing surface on Bronco Field.

As Burkey leaves Mustang, workers are building classroom additions at Mustang Centennial Elementary, Mustang Valley Elementary and Mustang Trails Elementary as well as a 46,000-square-foot multi-purpose health and wellness facility at the Mustang High School campus.

A committee is continuing its study of the Mustang High School and Bronco Stadium and working toward developing a list of projects to bring to voters in a spring bond election. The bond issue could also include funding to buy 80 acres of land near Czech Hall Road and SW 44th Street, adjacent to an 80-acre property the district purchased this month.
Burkey said he expects that work to move forward without missing a beat.

“This district, it’s in great condition, and it’s in extremely capable hands,” he said.

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