The 2013-2014 school year finally ended Tuesday for students in the Oklahoma City school district, two days later than planned, thanks to inclement winter weather that resulted in several school cancellations.
Superintendent Karl Springer retired after five years, former Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez was named interim superintendent, and Rob Neu was hired to lead the district starting next month.
School board Chairwoman Lynne Hardin called it a year of significant change for the state’s largest school district.
“The business expertise Dave Lopez brought to Oklahoma City Public Schools and his focus on improving operations has proven to be just what we were looking for when we approached him back in August,” Hardin said. “His commitment to our students and staff has provided us many positive outcomes, including a new administrative building and stronger partnerships in the community. Now, with the addition of Rob Neu and other impressive educators who will join our team, we expect great academic successes that we will relish this time next year.”
A look back at the 2013-2014 school year:
•The first day of school for more than 40,000 students. All but one of the district’s 78 schools is open, despite ongoing construction at 20 sites. Problems with renovations delays the opening of Taft Middle School.
•A districtwide dress code goes into effect, and nearly three dozen new principals and vice principals begin new roles, along with 248 first-year teachers.
•The school board votes unanimously to appoint state Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez as interim superintendent. Lopez, a former telephone company executive, agrees to lead the district until a permanent successor is found for Springer.
•Springer retires after five years as superintendent.
• Lopez makes his debut as interim superintendent.
•Board members voice their support for a policy to add safe rooms to every school in the district.
•District officials report that more students are attending district schools than at any time in the past 35 years. Enrollment rose by 2.4 percent or 1,115 students during the first quarter of the school year.
•School board approves Rodney J. McKinley as chief of human resources and head of district security. McKinley was the 15th chief master sergeant of the Air Force — the highest enlisted level of leadership in the Air Force — and was assigned to the Pentagon from 2006-09.
•Oklahoma City Public Schools receives 39 F’s, 20 D’s, 14 C’s, 10 B’s and 10 A’s on report cards released by the state Education Department. Of the district’s 93 schools: 18 schools improved, 10 schools stayed the same and 65 schools decreased, resulting in a grade of F for the district.
•Board approves a districtwide plan to modernize technology, which includes online collaboration and student email through Google Apps for Education. The plan will also provide students with laptop computers and Internet access for their personal devices in hopes of improving academic achievement.
•Lopez, speaking at school board meeting, says a plan to return sixth-grade classes to elementary schools was not practical because of overcrowding at those schools.
•During the first school board meeting of 2014, Lopez unveils a sweeping transition plan to improve academic performance, administrative accountability and community involvement. The plan includes a recommendation to overhaul the district’s administrative structure by eliminating the positions of four high-level executives and relocating dozens of central office employees to individual schools to improve responsiveness.
•District officials revise weather cancellation policy to include extreme low temperatures.
•Board members vote to accept the resignations of four high-ranking administrators and eliminate their positions as part of the district office reorganization plan.
•Board members begin interviewing candidates for superintendent.
•Parents rail against a district plan to bus hundreds of predominantly Hispanic students from southside middle schools and high schools to northside schools as a way to alleviate overcrowding.
•Board votes unanimously to hire a new superintendent, but district officials decline to identify new leader until a contract is finalized. Board also approves the purchase of the former Central National Bank building at 615 N Classen to house the district’s administrative offices.
•District leaders scrap controversial busing plan in favor of adding portable classrooms at two overcrowded high schools on the city’s south side — Capitol Hill and U.S. Grant — until permanent classrooms can be built.
•Board finalizes appointment of new Superintendent Robert R. Neu, a Seattle-area administrator with more than 20 years of experience in public education. Neu’s contract includes an annual salary of $240,000.
•Nearly 30 percent of district third-graders score “unsatisfactory” on a state reading test and are at risk of not being promoted to the fourth grade.
•Meredith Ziegler, 26, a vocal music teacher at Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School in northwest Oklahoma City, is named the district’s Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015.
•The school district and the city of Oklahoma City reach agreement on a deal to hire additional police officers for elementary school duty and split the $600,00 cost. By January, eight officers will be rotating between the district’s 55 elementary schools, officials said.