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Oklahoma City principal looks forward to enterprise possibilities

The Oklahoma City School Board voted Monday night to designate John Marshall High School as an enterprise school.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: April 8, 2013

John Marshall Mid-High School Principal Aspasia Carlson asked the Oklahoma City School Board for more freedom and more work, and next year, she'll get both.

The school board voted 5-3 Monday to dub the northwest Oklahoma City campus an enterprise school.

Carlson will have more flexibility with spending and staff, and she'll have a local school board, in addition to the districtwide one. Carlson and her board will make decisions about the operations of the school.

“The people at the school are the ones who can do the daily work to improve the lives of students,” Carlson said. “This isn't a commentary on the effectiveness of the (district) board. This is about trying to address that question of ownership.”

Contract details have to be approved by the Oklahoma City School Board. One issue the board had with the contract involved “must transfers,” or teachers who are transferred out of John Marshall that must be placed at other schools in the district.

John Marshall proposes to send out no more than 10 percent of the staff — six teachers.

“I don't think it's fair for you to say they're not good enough for your school but they're good enough for the rest of the district,” District 2 board member Justin Ellis said at Monday's board meeting.

Carlson said she will meet with the teachers, look at the schedule and determine who to send on.

Under normal circumstances, dropping an ineffective teacher is time-consuming, Carlson said. The process can take about three years. But not all teachers asked to leave are ineffective, she said; some won't fit into the new academic plans for the school.

With an enterprise status, Carlson will have more flexibility with her staff. For example, she will be able to move special-education students into the general population more often with co-teaching. Special-education teachers could move with students into traditional science and social studies classes.

Also, courses such as art, dance, music and drama can collaborate more, Carlson said. She hopes to add a marching band in the fall.

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Improvement doesn't happen overnight, but we're working on it. For some people who had written John Marshall off as a non-option, maybe they'll give us a second look.”

Aspasia Carlson,
John Marshall High School principal

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