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From the Superintendent's Desk

During our February Board of Education meeting I commented that I was receiving frequent updates in real time via Twitter regarding the Oklahoma House of Representatives vote on what is known as the Step Up Plan. This plan was a reaction to Oklahoma’s continued funding crisis over the past few years. As a result of reduced revenues that happened due to a combination of the economic downturn and increased tax cuts and incentives, all state agencies have seen dramatic cuts to funding: corrections, health care, mental health, roads and bridges, and education. Earlier this year a national study revealed that Oklahoma has cut per pupil funding for public schools more than any other state in the nation since 2008.

As the Tweets rolled in that evening it became clear that the Step Up Plan was not going to pass in the House with the necessary 3/4 vote, and when the bill was suspended about 11:00 pm, indeed it was 13 votes short of the 76 it needed.


I have not talked to anyone or read any opinions of the Step Up Plan that agreed with everything in the plan. Conspiracy theories abound, and some groups actively fought against it.


I run a school. My job is to make sure Woodward Public Schools has the resources it needs to move in the direction that the board, our community, and our leadership team lays out. I’m not an economist or a politician, but I can see that our state is withering on the vine. Overcrowded and understaffed prisons are falling apart. Underserved Oklahomans are being deprived of healthcare and mental health treatment. The incredible progress we have made with our roads and bridges is at risk of stalling out. 


Many schools across the state have gone to four-day school weeks to save a few dollars and help them recruit the few teachers that are available. Textbooks are falling apart, and class sizes continue to increase. In the last few years the State Department of Education has gone from issuing 34 emergency teaching certificates to almost 2,000 so far this year.


This year I have the honor and privilege to be a part of the DLI (District Leadership Institute) cohort which consists of 34 individuals from 14 states. From the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified to the assistant superintendent of a school the size of ours in Kentucky, this is a diverse group all focused on finding ways to provide kids with post-secondary opportunities. I found it interesting that when Oklahoma came up in our conversations, others in the group expressed sympathy for our plight. Oklahoma’s reputation is well-known and for the time being, less than positive.


I’ve said this before, and I think those who know me know that I am an optimist. I look for the good in people, and I have grown to understand that good comes from adversity. 


I found it interesting that while the Tweets about the failure of the Step Up Plan were coming in during our board meeting, we were doing good things right here in Woodward. We recognized the Student Citizen of the Year, Natalie Yadon, who has already lead incredible initiatives to provide eyeglasses to the less fortunate and reduce the risk of cancer for our firefighters. 


We introduced the Boomer Cheer Squad and marveled over their hard work and dedication to place nationally in competition this year.


Our Teacher of the Year finalists were recognized as well, all of whom are dedicated professional educators that work every day to provide their students with the best education.


How about 13 year old Peyton Barnard who confidently stepped to the front of a crowded board room to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and tell our board members about her educational experiences at Woodward Middle School?


That same night staff from Horace Mann Elementary presented a video and told us about their new after school program, which offers students the opportunity to extend their learning with cooking lessons, coding, music and more. This 100% voluntary program has already reached a number of students, and the staff do this without any extra compensation. They do it for the same reason so many of our faculty and staff do what they do every day: because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s good for kids.


We will continue. We will move forward to provide our students with the opportunities they need for a brighter future. We will always make sure every student that walks through our doors knows that someone cares about them; some students love to come to school … others come to school to be loved. We do this every day, and we do this because we have a passion for the profession that makes all other professions possible.


We will continue to move forward with the support of our community. Our state’s leaders need to hear input from all of us to find ways to put our entire state back on a path to success. Our heritage is steeped in the Pioneer spirit that settled this rough and unforgiving landscape. There are no insurmountable obstacles for Oklahomans, just challenges that lead to opportunities for a better tomorrow.



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Woodward Public Schools1023 10th StreetWoodward, OK  73802

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

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The Woodward Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or veteran status.

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