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From the Superintendent's Desk

It never ceases to amaze me how hectic the weeks and days building up to the first day of school are and how quickly we seem to fly right past Labor Day once the school year begins. Our staff puts so much time and effort into planning and preparing for a successful school year, and it sure paid off this year.

On the first day of school I was visiting the middle school, and I watched as our kids marveled at the new and newly renovated facilities. They were excited and proud. The WMS Principal, Mrs. Hall, commented to me that the day had gone well, in spite of a few glitches or minor issues, but students were so excited about the facilities, that nothing seemed to phase them.

On the second day of school, I spent the very first part of the day in Mrs. Long’s Kindergarten classroom. I really thought I would just “pop in” for a few minutes, but I was captivated watching the class go through their daily routine involving the Pledge of Allegiance, singing, marking the month, day, and counting. It was amazing to watch how the students had so quickly picked up on the daily routine and were excited to learn.

It’s interesting to observe how we are all creatures of habit. Our lives are full of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routines, and many times we grow comfortable with those routines and perhaps miss out on items of importance along the way. In the same way, I think we hear or see things in the news or via social media so much that they become a matter of routine, and we can become desensitized to them. How many times have you heard that Oklahoma teachers are underpaid? How many times have you heard about our state leading the nation in cuts to public education funding? I was asked by a reporter last year how preparing a school budget during a budget crisis compares to a year when funding is good. I had to say I couldn’t answer that question as a third year superintendent because all three of my years involved decreases in state funding.

I mention these things in hopes that our patrons and the citizens of our great state will not grow so comfortable hearing about the lack of funding and support for core services that we become resigned to the fact that things have to stay that way. We should not pack our prisons over capacity in understaffed and inadequate facilities. We should not turn our backs on the physical and mental health needs of our neighbors. And we cannot ignore the fact that refusing to invest in our children's’ education is a refusal to invest in a positive future for our state.

It made for a great sound byte recently when an elected official stated that reduced funding for education in Oklahoma is “fake news.” Our state has cut per pupil expenditures more than any other state in the nation since 2008. You all know I was an English teacher, but this is simple math even for me: number of students divided by the amount of funding from the state.

In spite of the lack of financial support from the state, local communities are supporting their schools in big ways through bond issues. Last year over 80% of the bond issue initiatives in Oklahoma communities passed; remember, it takes a 60% super majority to pass a school bond. Bond elections are a key component of how our schools are able to build and maintain facilities and purchase technology and transportation equipment, but it is not legal to use those funds to pay salaries or even pay the utility bills.

It is my nature to be optimistic, so I do have hope that better days are ahead. I believe that we can turn this around, restoring respect to the teaching profession to where our youth are excited about the prospect of becoming a teacher one day. In fact, I think we must set our minds on investing in education as a matter of improving our state. I love how our State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister recently put it: “Public education benefits two groups: students and everyone else.”

Our local communities are overwhelmingly supporting their public schools, so at some point I think our statewide elected leaders will understand that their constituents support public schools. 

In the mean time, I want to continue to express how grateful I am to all of our staff at WPS. Their commitment to kids and willingness to work hard and sacrifice is truly commendable. And I say to our community, we take our commitment seriously every day and do not take your support for granted … from the sausage fundraiser to voting for bond issues, we appreciate that you are there for the kids.

The school year is well underway, and I cannot wait to share more with you about the great things happening in our classrooms and the tremendous successes of our students. As always, I am humbled to be your superintendent and look forward to hearing from you.

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Woodward Public Schools1023 10th StreetWoodward, OK  73802

PH: 580-256-6063Fax: 580-256-4391

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