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Retiring Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent cites lack of academic improvement as failure

Superintendent Karl Springer, 65, who steps down Aug. 30, says the Oklahoma City school district is on the right track as the board tries to find his successor.
by Tim Willert Modified: August 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm •  Published: August 13, 2013

Karl Springer is proudest of his efforts to reconfigure the Oklahoma City Public Schools calendar, add new elementary school curriculum and bring elite teachers to the district.

But the outgoing superintendent acknowledged Tuesday being most frustrated by his inability to dramatically improve academic performance throughout the state's largest school district during his five-year tenure.

“My biggest failure is the academic achievement of our students hasn't been what it could have been,” Springer said during an interview with The Oklahoman.

While Springer points to “incremental improvement” across the district, thousands of students can't read and can't do math at grade level.

Still, Springer said he believes the district is on the right track and said academic achievement is improving.

He said it will be imperative for his successor to strengthen community relationships to meet the needs of students, many of whom live in poverty.

“It is not the reason that the children are being unsuccessful … but it is an obstacle for them,” he said.

“When kids come to school and they're hungry, or they go to sleep at night and they're hungry, or they're not sure exactly where they're going to be living from week to week and month to month, those kinds of things have an effect on the child.”

Suggestions for future

Among the solutions Springer suggested for the district going forward: Adding before- and after-school programs and encouraging participation in extracurricular activities such as band, speech and athletics.

Another area of importance will be increasing community participation from businesses and individuals, including parents, to help improve literacy.

“We've got to be able to get more mentors and role models into the schools to really help with that,” he said.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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This school district has moved forward. It's time now to have someone come in and take the baton and really move this school district with the achievement issues. I want to see that happen.”

Karl Springer,
Outgoing Oklahoma City superintendent


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