As many as 24 Oklahoma City schools could be taken over by the state Education Department under a new plan that would identify failing schools statewide.
But members of the Oklahoma City School Board expressed frustration Monday night that the plan isn't clear enough.
“Unfortunately, there's a whole lot that we don't know yet,” school board Chairwoman Angela Monson said.
The state was granted a special waiver of federal No Child Left Behind rules earlier this month, but Oklahoma City Schools employees reported at the board meeting that they are still unclear about many of the specifics of the plan.
Cindy Schmidt, chief academic officer, and Terry Fraley, executive director of federal programs, presented the board with information about the state's new grading systems for schools.
Schools that fell into the lowest category were required to submit requests to avoid takeover this month, but the details of who will grade the applications and how are still unknown, Schmidt and Fraley said.
Monson said the district is willing to work within the state's reform plans, but she said officials have been stumped by a lack of information, communication and clarity.
Monson said the request failed to ask how school and district officials planned to improve the situation.
“We were not asked to be very specific and offer the rest of the story about what we can do,” she said.
Superintendent Karl Springer said a state takeover would be a step back for the district.
“Oklahoma City for the last 15 years has just had a revolving door of senior leadership,” he said. “What we don't need is to start over again. We have the initiatives that we need in place to be successful. We need to give those initiatives some time and apply those with great fidelity. What we're really asking for here is to the state to take a look at what we're doing and to give us some time to get it done.”
District 4 board member Steve Shafer was recognized for his four years of service on the school board.
Shafer did not run for re-election so he could spend more time with his family and business. Several board members thanked Shafer for his work on the district's strategic plan.
“Agreement isn't always the best plan for progress,” Shafer said, “but we were always able to work toward a common goal.”
Shafer teared up as he spoke about the frustrations and triumphs of his four years on the board.
“This board and superintendent must think bigger and have higher expectations,” he said.
Laura Massenat was sworn in as the new District 4 board member. Massenat won Shafer's seat in the Feb. 14 election.
“I'm thrilled to be here,” she said to the board. “I'm looking forward to getting to work.”
Phil Horning was sworn in for his second term of office for District 3.
He was unopposed in re-election.
The board voted for Horning to serve another year as board vice
What we're really asking for here is to the state to take a look at what we're doing and to give us some time to get it done.”