Nine people attended the district’s annual Public Forum held on Monday, Feb. 26.  The evening is for district and site level administrators as well as school board members to listen to ideas, accolades or concerns from patrons. Board members and administrators take notes during the forum but do not engage in dialogue and no votes are taken. However, following the forum, administrators do reach out to individuals (either by phone or email) with a response.

The district recognizes that the community may be interested in the answers provided to the individuals who spoke on Feb. 26.

Below are the responses.

Jan Wright-Represented the EMHS Bulldog Band. Jan wanted to express gratitude to the district for supporting the arts in our schools.

Answer: “Thank you for recognizing the Bulldog Band program and all of the Edmond Public Schools’ arts programs.  As you pointed out in your remarks, a strong arts program is the result of a collaborative effort that includes students, parents, instructors, administrators, and the community at-large.  Many may be unaware of the role our citizens play, but their continued support of bond elections ensures that the Bulldog Band and all of our instrumental programs are able to purchase large instruments such as a contra bassoon, a string base, a marimba, and a timpani – just to name a few.”

Tamara Crabtree- Praised Advisory time at Sequoyah Middle School

Answer: “We appreciate the feedback on your child’s experience with Cougar Time, the thirty-minute advisory period implemented at Sequoyah this year.  Central Middle School is now in its second year of implementing Tiger Time, an opportunity that expanded an earlier iteration that focused primarily on academic intervention or sustained silent reading. By rolling out this opportunity incrementally among the six middle schools, we have been able to problem-solve challenges one school at time before going district-wide.  Now, both Central and Sequoyah have plans in place that allow for daily academic interventions in the core subjects and enriching experiences as well that provide time for activities and learning outside of the grade-level curriculum. Advisory has provided time for students to learn about and practice mock court, knitting, ballroom dance, gardening, poetry, and astronomy.  It has also proven to be a healthy environment for practicing peer and social skills.  Cheyenne Middle School will be next to add advisory during their Cheyenne Connections period.”

Cara O’Daniel-Concerned about the safety of wrestlers at high schools. Cara wanted to know why students are not required to wear headgear during practice.

Answer:  “Thank you for sharing your concern about safety measures required during wrestling practices at our high schools.   Specifically, you mentioned your disappointment that there have been occasions when the wrestlers were not required to wear the headgear in practice and sparing that is always expected in regulation matches. We find this information to be alarming as well, and you may be assured that we are addressing the concern immediately.  The safety of our athletes is of great concern to all of us at Edmond Public Schools.  If you do not find this situation to be corrected going forward, please address the coach or site athletic director of your concerns. Further problems, should there be any, may be directed to the principal or district athletic director.”

Louisa Ward – Expressed Desire to Continue Accelerated Math at Northern Hills

Answer: “Thank you for letting us know the wonderful experience your children have encountered in the accelerated math class at Northern Hills. In an effort to educate anyone on this topic, we would like to provide more information.  First, Edmond Public Schools expects every teacher to differentiate and enrich student learning to the deepest level possible not only in math, but in all subject areas.  There are many ways each teacher and even groups of teachers find to accomplish this task.  While most enrichment experiences are conducted in a classroom with students on a variety of levels, a few teachers still enrich students in an environment where students are separated by academic levels. This is the case with the advanced 5 th grade math class.  It did come to the district’s attention a couple of years ago that there were inconsistencies in how students qualified for district advanced math classes and no measures were in place to assure that 5th grade standards were mastered before moving on to 6th grade standards.  Two summers ago standards were set for sites that were offering an advanced 5th grade math class and put consistent practices in place. We would never want to stifle teachers to the point where they could not teach students at an enriching level, but we needed some checks in place that assured master of grade level standards.

It is also important to note that with the new math standards adopted by the state of Oklahoma two years ago, every teacher and school must evaluate their methods and make sure they are providing instruction in a manner where students are learning grade level standards which are much deeper and richer than previous standards. These standards take the emphasis away from lower level thinking tasks, such as computation and substituting values into formulas, and put the emphasis on higher level thinking tasks, such as the solving of multi-part, real-world problems.

If Northern Hills ever decided to change their math program, I feel confident it would only be because they had something even better to offer. ”

Beth Henry- Concerned that the district is not doing enough to assist students with dyslexia. Beth believes the science of reading needs to be taught to educators and she had concerns about Read 180 at Middle School.

Answer: “Read 180 is a reading intervention program for older struggling readers in grades 4th through 12th grade. It is based on scientifically proven principles using a blended model.  The blended learning model provides a balance of teacher-led direct instruction, scaffold practice, whole group and small group interaction, including online application and independent reading.   It is one of the most thoroughly researched and documented reading intervention programs available.  It is the result of a collaborative effort between Vanderbilt University and the Orange County Public Schools in Florida.  Response from numerous large-scale independent research provided validation studies for reading comprehension of Read 180 from the Florida Center for Reading Research, What Works Clearinghouse, and John Hopkins University.  Read 180 has been supported by the Dyslexia Tutor-News Resource since 2007.

The certified instructors from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided the training for Read 180 as well as coaching days throughout the school year for the teacher lead explicit instruction for reading and writing.

The district has trained all of the elementary special education teachers by the Payne Education Center’s Academic Language Therapists who are ALTA certified instructors.  Payne Education Center’s training program has been accredited by the International Dyslexia Association.

We apologize if one of our administrators made a statement that we are not allowed to use Dyslexia on an IEP.  We have and are using the term Dyslexia on our eligibility paperwork and on IEPs.  The Primary Disability of a Specific Learning Disability is an umbrella term over Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, etc., just like the Primary Disability of Other Health Impairment is an umbrella term over ADHD, Epilepsy, Leukemia, etc.  If you do not find this situation to be corrected going forward, please notify the site administrator and if there should be further problems please contact the Director of Special Services.

Soundra Naifeh-Wants the district to help solve traffic issues around schools, specifically left turn lanes.

Answer: “Thank you for your interest and concern about traffic around Edmond Schools, specifically the length of left turn lanes and future traffic at Memorial High School when the track is built on the North side of 15th. At Memorial, the district and the City will work together to design and build the safest entrance and exits to the school and track facility. That will entail matching the entrance to the track facility with the existing main entrance at Memorial and improving the traffic signal, turn lanes and pedestrian crossing. It is not generally known but the superintendent and city manager meet monthly to discuss issues that are relevant to both the school and city. Additionally, administration and city department heads meet every three months to discuss in detail those same issues and future projects. Over the past 20 years, the level of involvement and communication between the district has greatly increased.
This has allowed the City of Edmond to place into plans improvements to traffic around schools. Projects of note would be the widening of Pennsylvania around Frontier Elementary and Heartland Middle School and the near future relocation of Thomas Drive so that the North High School parking lot can be moved next to the school. The City of Edmond also has a planning and request for funding for improvements on Danforth in front of North High School and improvements on Covell and Air Depot in conjunction with the schools construction of a fourth
high school.

Craig Dishman-Concerned about the use of cell phones in classes

Answer: “Mr. Dishman, thank you for your concern about cell phone usage in classrooms. The district believes that the full one-to-one implementation of Chromebooks next year at all secondary schools and in all grade levels, will all but end the practice of students needing their personal device/cell phone out and accessible for use in classrooms.

Tammy Orona-Concerned about Recycling, Securing Playgrounds, Sales tax for teacher raises

Answer: “Ms. Orona, thank you for your comments and thank you for your long-term commitment as a teacher to the students of Edmond Schools. Edmond Schools makes a concerted effort to re-cycle many items throughout the district – schools are very adept at recycling paper, high schools all have environmental clubs which facilitate recycling at those sites and engage in many “green” activities. Transportation recycles tires, batteries and used oil. The maintenance department recycles scrap metal and copper. In the past, schools had commercial recycling bins that paid for the recycled items, however those are no longer available and schools must pay to have those bins on site and receive nothing in return. In this age of low, tight budgets, it is not possible to supplement the recycling effort from site budgets. Could we increase our
effort, absolutely. Besides recycling, we also need to look at building materials and systems which conserve energy, water and are environmentally friendly.

Your comments on securing playgrounds are well taken. Playground gates should be locked at all times when someone is not passing through them and vigilance around and on the playgrounds should be a primary concern of adults who are supervising students.

Concerning a local sales tax for teachers, that is an interesting concept. Whereas several cities have had temporary sales taxes for building improvements, no city in Oklahoma has a sales tax for teacher’s salaries. State Question 779 was an attempt to have a statewide sales tax for teacher salaries and it failed. We both agree that teachers are in dire need of a significant salary increase. Parents, communities, politicians and businessmen also agree that teachers are underpaid. We are at an inflection point that if something is not done soon, irreparable harm will be done to student learning as there will not be enough teachers coming out of colleges or will be done to student learning as there will not be enough teachers coming out of colleges or
veteran teachers who will stay in the profession at the current level of compensation. This year, there will be approximately 300 teachers graduate from state universities. Edmond alone will require 150 to 175 teachers to fill our open positions.”

Sam Klimmek – Represented his Wife who is a Substitute Teacher. Sam was asking about better respect for substitute teachers, the “do not call” list maintained for substitutes, and why, after being secured to sub in a school, a substitute is sometimes moved to a different grade  

Answers: “Showing respect for all who visit our schools is a priority, whether
that is a parent, student, or substitute teacher. Many of our schools work to provide a positive experience for subs in an effort to encourage them to come back.”

Substitutes can choose to receive jobs either through our automated calling system or through logging in to the Absence Management system online and specifically selecting available openings. Substitutes can pre-select the schools where they would like to work, but the system does not allow persons to pre-select specific grade
levels or subjects.  If a substitute chooses to receive calls, he/she will receive calls for all positions at the school(s) he/she has pre-selected to work. If a substitute chooses not to receive calls but rather to login to Absence Management, he/she have the ability to select any grade or subject in which there is an available absence needing to be filled.

Site administrators must have the flexibility to move substitute teachers to the positions of greatest need during the day. If a principal doesn’t have enough substitutes to cover all positions, they must prioritize which positions have the greatest need to be covered. Page 3 of the Edmond Public Schools Substitute Handbook indicates that reassignment may occur from time-to- time. It states, “On the occasion when an essential position goes unfilled, an administrator may
reassign a substitute for work at their school site to accommodate a greater need for classroom coverage. While we prefer substitutes work in their chosen areas, there are times when adjustments must be made in relation to the needs of the building.

The preference of having a substitute teacher varies from substitute to substitute. Sometimes, classroom teachers will notify substitutes if a student teacher is in their class. If this is a concern for a substitute, they can inquire at the office and request a change. Site administration can then determine if it is possible to honor that request based upon the needs of the building and available substitute positions.