SSPS Board of Education discusses district finances, state testing, and use of adjunct teachers

Board of Ed member Jackie Wagnon presents Joselynn Parrott with the Sandite Spirit Award. (Photo: Scott Emigh). Click here to view full meeting photo gallery.

Board of Ed member Jackie Wagnon presents Joselynn Parrott with the Sandite Spirit Award. (Photo: Scott Emigh).

Click here to view full meeting photo gallery.

The Sand Springs Board of Education met in a regular monthly meeting Monday evening at the Charles Page High School Fine Arts Center. The Board presented a series of awards and discussed district finances, state testing, and personnel. 

Carson Griggs, the OSSAA 6A State Runner-Up, was recognized for his exceptional golfing abilities as well as his dedication to the classroom and awarded the Sandite Spirit Award. He recently signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Denver. 

Joselynn Parrott was recognized for her effort to instill positivity in her school by leaving messages of affirmation in the restrooms. Lori Wilkerson received the Pacesetter award for a similar project. Laura McGehee a SSPS librarian, also received the Pacesetter Award for being willing to step up and help out wherever needed, including teaching a kindergarten class recently. 

"The time that it takes these folks just to do their ordinary job, for them to take time to help give these students some positive esteem is incredible," said Superintendent Sherry Durkee.

The Sand Springs Home and Webco Industries were recognized with the Pacesetter Award for their recent donations to the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative in Sand Springs. The Home donated $10,000 for the second-straight year, and Webco donated $20,000.

The district is now $30,000 away from their goal for STEM program building and Webco CEO Dana Weber has penned a letter to other area business, asking them to contribute as well.

A representative from Sanders, Bledsoe, and Hewett gave a report on their recent audit of Fiscal Year 2016-2017. He said the district was well in line with all best practices and there were no problems with any of their financial accounting. 

Superintendent Durkee unveiled the new district website redesign and a promotional video on the home page produced by Joey Johnson Photography. 

Durkee discussed State testing and how Sand Springs compares to other districts. "As long as these reports are plastered all over the Tulsa World, we're going to be pushing to make ourselves look better...as long as those A-F report cards are going out, our teachers are going to be teaching to the test."

"People are pretty amazing in terms of our community." Durkee. "People are noticing good things. The district is working really hard to make sure we're communicating better."

The new district security officer is in his third week on the job. In addition to providing security, he is also expected to build relationships with the students and be a positive influence. 

He said he has plans to visit a group of fifth grade boys at Pratt who have been accused of bullying, and will be bringing some high school athletes and coaches to talk to them as well. "You have a class full of fifth grade boys that eventually are going to be out in the community, you want to get them on the right path early in life," he said. Rob Miller mentioned that the officer's relationship-building capabilities are one of the primary features they liked about him during the interview process.

Durkee discussed the recent loss of a speech pathologist to the private sector where she's reportedly making much more money. The Board also approved the hiring of three paraprofessionals for Pratt Elementary and Clyde Boyd Middle School.

The Board discussed the ongoing use of adjunct teachers and plans to use more in the future. Adjunct teachers are usually experts in their field from the private sector who are hired to teach a specific subject despite not having certifications or backgrounds in education. State rules recently expanded to allow an adjunct to teach three periods a day, whereas they previously could only teach one. Durkee wants to look into hiring adjuncts to teach marketing and physical therapy in the future. All adjuncts must be board-approved before teaching. 

The board also spent thirty minutes in executive session for a routine review of Durkee. "The superintendent has been evaluated and we still have one," joked Board President Rusty Gunn.