By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs Board of Education met in a regular meeting Monday evening at Charles Page High School and discussed matters of school performance. Special recognition was given to the CPHS varsity softball team, as well as Church That Matters, Inkwell Printing, and David and Jeanie Kvach.
Head Coach Shelli Brown and the varsity softball team were presented with a Coin of Excellence.
Members of the Sand Springs Education Association briefly addressed the crowd about the success of the recent Walk For Kids fundraiser benefiting Dayspring Villa, which raised more than $2300 dollars. They also thanked the local Wendy's for a donation of $500.
Jeanie and David Kvach were recognized for their recent donation to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Initiative. David Kvach is the owner of KLO, LLC, KVR Energy L.L.C., and Guardian Energy Consultants, Inc. Jeanie is the Architect and Master Planner for the Sand Springs School District and owner of Kvach & Associates.
"Dave and I just believe in this district. We've had two kids graduate from this district. One is a doctor, graduated from Yale Medical," said Jeanie. "We specifically wanted to help improve math in the district, so when I heard about this opportunity I told Dave, 'put your money where your mouth is.'"
Pastor, entrepreneur, and Board of Ed member Rusty Gunn accepted recognitions on behalf of his church and business for their donations to the STEM initiative. Church That Matters volunteers regularly host tailgate fundraiser events prior to all Sandite Football home games. At each game they sell hot dogs, burgers, snacks, and more to raise money for the Sandite athletics programs. According to Gunn, they raised more than $12,000 this year and more than $60,000 since they began doing it a few years ago. Gunn's business, Inkwell Printing, also made a donation to the STEM initiative.
As the Board moved on from recognitions to business, they spent a hefty amount of time discussing the recent A-F Report Cards issued by the State.
Charles Page High School received a C-, but according to Superintendent Durkee, that doesn't tell the whole story. Durkee pointed to CPHS's 51.16% poverty rating as an indicator of why the school appears to perform poorly. Sandite Pride verified Durkee's claims with the State Board of Education's Low Income Report for 2015-2016 and the numbers more than check out. 6A schools with poverty rates below 50% average a score of 86.57, whereas schools over 50% averaged only 69.46.
When judged against schools with equally economically diverse student bodies, Charles Page is actually above average. Ponca City High School, which holds a poverty percentage of 53.59 scored only a 63% compared to Sand Springs's score of 71%. Neighboring Highway 97 rival Sapulpa scored a 63% as well.
The only school with a poverty rates over 50% to score above a C was Union with an 82%. Just below Sand Springs in poverty is Booker T. Washington, who received a 97%. According to Durkee, "it's impossible to compare apples to apples here."
Firstly, Booker T. Washington is a four-year school, whereas Charles Page is only for tenth through twelfth grade. In overall student growth, CPHS scored a 58% in Algebra I, compared to a 92% at Booker T. The difference? Booker T.'s score was based on participation of 296 students. Sand Springs only had twelve participants. The majority of Sand Springs students take Algebra I in ninth grade, meaning the dozen participants at CPHS are students who are already struggling with the subject. Indeed, Sand Springs's Central Ninth Grade Center scored a 94% overall and a 90% in Algebra I based on 374 participating students.
Secondly, Booker T. Washington has admission standards and isn't a typical public school. Applicants to the school must score at the 35th percentile or above in both the reading and mathematics components of the State assessments. They must maintain a cumulative GPA at or above 2.50 and must maintain superb attendance with no suspensions.
"I'm not making an excuse," said Durkee. "It's a reason that we can't ignore. It's hard to compare with a school that allows selection."
This is the last year for the current standards of A-F report cards, and next year's scores could look very different due to new laws passed in the most recent legislative session. Next year's reports will be based on math, biology, English, reading, and U.S. history.
"Even if Charles Page gets an A+, I will have a hard time celebrating," said Durkee. "There are flaws in the system."
Durkee also discussed the Twin Cities Elementary property that was vacated by SSPS in 2003. "We may want to look seriously at tearing it down." The building is the oldest school in Sand Springs and has had little to no interest from buyers in the last several years. Though the district isn't making any definitive plans one way or another for now, they're considering razing the building and holding on to the property for potential future expansion years down the line.