The future is now for Oklahoma City Public Schools, and the district's temporary leader said Monday night it is time to move forward with sweeping changes to improve academic performance, administrative accountability and community involvement.
Interim Superintendent Dave Lopez unveiled a proposed 6-month transition plan for consideration by the school board that includes a recommendation to overhaul the district's administrative structure by relocating about 100 employees to individual schools to improve responsiveness.
“Whether you measure by anecdote or hard data ... we need to acknowledge that the work done in this building is not meeting the needs we have,” Lopez told board members. “A culture has developed at 900 N Klein based on oversight and compliance, rather than seeing ourselves as support for school sites.”
Lopez also announced plans to move another 150 employees from the district's antiquated administration building into a smaller structure he said would improve perception and cost the district less to renovate.
Under the proposed plan, Lopez also recommended spending available money on capital improvements at schools that need it “as soon as practical.” A key element in planning for the next bond issue, he added, will be to study growing enrollment and where it is causing capacity problems that could result in needed expansion or new construction.
Additionally, he announced plans to revitalize relationships with key constituencies in the community, including parents, faith-based organizations, the city of Oklahoma City, businesses, alumni and volunteers.
Among the approaches Lopez proposed include the creation of an “innovation fund” to pay for more staffing, training and technology specifically for school safety and security; a budget for recruiting teachers and principals; and increased resources for reading and language programs in prekindergarten through third grade.
Board members reacted favorably to Lopez's presentation, which lasted about 30 minutes and will be hashed out at a series of future meetings.
“This is extraordinary, and from my position on this board this is the first comprehensive outline of any kind of plan that we've had, so I thank you very much,” board Chairwoman Lynne Hardin told Lopez.