By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
There were plenty of awards to go around at Monday night's regular monthly Sand Springs Board of Education meeting. The Board presented Rusty Vann, Elbert Moore, and the Charles Page High School Wrestling Team with the Sandite Spirit Award. Wrestling Head Coach Kelly Smith was presented with a Coin of Excellence, and Bob Jackson, Ryan Dannar, and Eric Hartley were presented with Pacesetter Awards.
The Sandite Spirit Award recognizes students and community members who have gone above expectations while representing Sand Springs Public Schools. The Pacesetter award is a similar recognition specifically for SSPS faculty and staff members.
The Sandite wrestling team recently completed a perfect 20-0 season. They won the Owasso Ram Duals, the District Dual Quadrangle, and the first 6A Dual State Championship in school history. They also won the Perry Tournament of Champions, the Jerry Billings Invitational, the 6A East Regional, and the 6A State Tournament. Riley Weir, Daton Fix, Jack Karstetter, Beau Bratcher, and Payton Scott all brought home individual gold.
Head Wrestling Coach Kelly Smith has been with the Sandites for fifteen seasons as a coach, and is also a Charles Page alumnus. The school has crowned nine individual State Champions during his tenure, and this was their first team State Title since 1971.
CPHS Class of 2006 graduate Rusty Vann was presented with the Sandite Spirit Award. Vann graduated from the University of Tulsa before entering medical school at Lincoln Memorial University and DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is currently in his second year of residency and often works with the Sand Springs special-needs students.
Substitute teacher Elbert Moore was also presented with the Sandite Spirit Award. "He is absolutely integral to our staff," said CPHS Principal Stan Trout. "You are not a substitute teacher, you are a part of our staff and community. He does everything we would expect out of a full time teacher and more."
Bob Jackson, Ryan Dannar, and Eric Hartley were presented with the Pacesetter Award for their work in the IT department. After long-time Director of Technology Danny Wasson passed away last December, the other members of the IT department stepped up to make sure nothing missed a beat. Coworker Shannon Chapman nominated the three for the award, and did so with high commendation. "More than just coworkers, this is my family," said Chapman. "These guys are the foundation. Without them you guys wouldn't have internet in the morning." She also bestowed each of them with nicknames recognizing their varied strengths and character attributes.
Former Board President Mike Mullins was sworn into office for a new term after running unopposed. The Board also reorganized the various officers as they do every March. Church That Matters Pastor Rusty Gunn was named the Board President, Bo Naugle took over as Vice-President, and Jackie Wagnon was named Deputy Clerk.
Following the awards presentations the Board also discussed matters of curriculum, finances, and political affairs.
Faculty members discussed the future of Sand Springs curriculum and the potential to focus instruction around career pathways with classes customized around certain career fields that students are interested in.
A report was given on the state of the Ed Dubie Field House gym floor. The floor has become slightly raised due to a potential leak in the slab, causing it to be unplayable. This resulted in the Girls Basketball Regional Tournament being moved to Broken Arrow last month. As of now, the floor is expected to be recoverable once the leak is fixed.
Superintendent Sherry Durkee gave an update on the ongoing plan to convert all SSPS properties to LED lighting. The district is currently considering using a company utilized by the Ponca City school district. LED lights are more expensive up front than traditional lighting, but last far longer, provide better quality lighting, and save on energy costs. The district is currently estimating between eight and ten-thousand dollars in monthly energy savings once the conversion is complete.
Assistant Superintendent Rob Miller discussed the future of student safety precautions and the possibility of equipping school staff with a smart phone app called Crisis Go. The free app features a panic button, allowing teachers and staff to report a situation by sending a direct alert to the principal and security officer in the event that they can't reach their desk phones. SSPS teachers spend the time between classes standing in the halls to monitor the students, making it difficult to get back to their desks in the event of a fight or other emergency situation.
According to Superintendent Durkee, the district continues to be financially stable in spite of continued cuts to education funding, due to drastic measures taken during the last school year. She does not expect the district to have to make further reductions to staff in the next year, but remains concerned about the near-future as the State Legislature continues to grapple with a $900 million budget shortfall.
She also discussed current State Legislation that could be concerning for public schools, such as limiting bond elections to certain times of year.
The Board approved the hiring of a fourth grade teacher for the current school year.