Before Rob Neu can formulate a game plan for turning around Oklahoma City Public Schools, the district’s new superintendent said he’s got to know what he’s working with.
A former high school basketball coach in his home state of Michigan, Neu said Tuesday he will spend his first 100 days on the job evaluating the talent around him.
His players, in this case, are students, teachers, school administrators and central office staff.
“I’ve got to figure out who’s on our team. I’ve got to figure out what our skills are, what our strengths are,” he said. “To come in with a prescribed offense or defense without knowing your talent is a huge coaching error.”
Neu unveiled his 100-day transition plan during Tuesday night’s school board meeting, his first as superintendent.
“Over the next 100 days I plan to learn about your school system and your community, now our community,” he told the board. “And how can we best improve...the reputation we once had here in Oklahoma City and that we’re destined to rekindle.”
The plan, outlined in a glossy brochure, is meant to be a starting point “for the work that we’re going to do together.” The core mission: Preparing students for success in school, work and life.
Neu said that will be done with “transparency and accountability.”
“We’ve got to ensure success for every child,” he said. “We’ve got to engage our parents. We’ve got to ensure that our principals have the skills to be instructional leaders to support the teachers who ensure student success.”
Academic success has been hard to come by for Oklahoma’s largest school district. Of the district’s 93 schools, 39 received F’s on A-F report cards released by the state Education Department in November. Another 20 schools received D’s. The district received a failing grade.
More recently, 956 of the district’s 3,445 third-graders (27 percent) failed a state test to measure reading proficiency.
Neu, 52, is a former Seattle-area school district superintendent hired by the school board in April.
Over the next 100 business days, he said, he will meet individually with board members to develop an effective working relationship, and identify and analyze issues affecting student performance — including data that measures student achievement and graduation along with school performance. District operations will also be inspected for efficiency and effectiveness.
Getting to know district people, programs and partnerships, and improving community engagement are also included in Neu’s transition plan.
“We’ve got to engage students in learning; we’ve got to engage their parents in learning,” he said. “If we can (do that), we can see significant changes.”
Until then, Neu’s said he’s not inclined to discuss specific strategies until he has a better understanding of what fits and what doesn’t.
“What’s in this 100-day plan is a lot of work, and it’s going to take all of that to get this done before I can really truly come out and say, ‘Here’s the things we’re going to do,” he said. “I think if I came in too specific, it would be a potential disaster.”
For more information on the 100-day transition plan, log on to the district’s web site at http://okcs.schooldesk.net/