New Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer signed on Monday to join the district under a one-year contract at his request, saying he wants to be subject to the same treatment and evaluation as teachers.
Springer, a former teacher, has been the superintendent of Mustang Public Schools since 1999, and has been working in Oklahoma schools since 1977.
"I have a sense of responsibility ... This superintendent has no sense of entitlement,” Springer said of his request for a one-year contract.
The previous superintendent, John Porter, had a three-year contract.
Despite the short term of his contract, worth about $185,000 including benefits, Springer said he plans to stay as long as he can have a positive impact.
"There are 40,000 great reasons to want to be the superintendent of Oklahoma City,” Springer said, referring to the approximately 40,000 students in the district, after being introduced at Martin Luther King Elementary, where board members voted on his appointment.
Acting board chairman Al Basey said about 40 candidates were whittled to four finalists before selecting Springer.
Springer officially takes the reins July 15. By that time he hopes to have a for-sale sign at his house. He plans to move into the city district.
Springer's priorities include strengthening early education, making high school more relevant and raising the overall success and stature of the district.
"You only get one chance to be a kindergarten student. You only get one chance to be a senior in high school. And what we want to be able to do is to make sure that that one chance that those children get is a great chance for their education,” he said.
Springer has about 30 years of experience in education and about 30 years of experience in the military, with overlapping years while in the U.S. Army Reserve. He retired as a colonel.
"I'm going to do a lot of listening,” he said. "I want you to come and talk to me.”
Not everyone's happy
Six board members voted to hire Springer, but Wilfredo Santos Rivera abstained.
He said he was impressed with Springer's leadership, but that he was bothered by the selection process.