The Woodward News

Local News

September 11, 2013

Board approves teacher, staff hires

Woodward, Okla. — About four weeks into the new school year, hiring topped the list of matters addressed Monday night at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Woodward Board of Education.

In what is becoming a normal occurrence over the last couple of years, Woodward Board members approved the hiring of 18 more education professionals and support staff weeks into the new school year.

The approvals Monday night were granted for teachers and staff already hired and working since school began August 20, according to Woodward Superintendent, Tim Merchant.

According to Merchant, because of growing student enrollment and a critical shortage of teachers in the state, there is still a need to hire:

* A kindergarten teacher

* A 3rd grade teacher

* A 4th grade teacher

*Two middle school teachers

"We're still actively pursuing that," Merchant said in an earlier interview regarding the positions.

As of Monday night, enrollment for Woodward School District stood at 2,995 students.

Last year, student enrollment for Woodward Schools was 2,774, gaining the district 221 students, according to Merchant.

"Lots and lots of students," Merchant said with a laugh.

In other business, Woodward Teacher of the Year and Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Finalist Chelsea Roberts gave a brief report regarding her recent competition with 11 other teachers for the coveted title of Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

Last week, Roberts traveled to Oklahoma City to participate in an interview in front of eight judges, which will be used to determine who wins Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

Roberts also participated in an "on stage" question where she was asked to speak on a particular subject without knowing ahead of time, what the question would be, she said.

"I think I am just glad that I didn't mess up anything," Roberts said. "I am incredibly proud to be representing my hometown for this."

In other business, a concerned parent whose ECC child was allegedly fed a cheese sandwich and a carton of milk because her lunch money account appeared to have no money in it, addressed the board Monday night.

According to Meagan Love, last spring her 5 year old daughter was not allowed to eat lunch and was fed a cheese sandwich and a carton of milk because her lunch money account had reached zero.

According to Love, no notice had been sent out to let her know the account had gone empty of funds.

"I called the teacher and she said she had not received that notice herself," Love said. "That should be the last resort, that the child is not fed."

Love said she might not have taken the matter up at the board meeting Monday, but again this year, a similar event happened.

"This year, my daughter had $75 that was not credited to her correct account. So when she went to school on the day they stopped feeding children with zero balances, they just gave her a cheese sandwich and she doesn't eat cheese so all she had all day was two slices of bread," Love said. "It was easy to fix, because we were able to find where they had credited the $75. But if they had sent me a notice, I would have fixed it before my child wasn't fed lunch."

Love said that day, she had sent her child to school with $1 to purchase a "Smencil" (scented pencils) and instead of purchasing that, her child attempted to pay nutrition workers for her own lunch.

"And they still told her it wasn't enough," Love said. "She was exhausted and felt bad when she got home."

Love went on to suggest to the board that they develop a policy that requires Child Nutrition department to notify parents when a student  is within 10 meals of reaching empty in the lunch account.

"Maybe then a second notice could go out when they have only three meals left," Love said. "At Enid School District, they allow a child to charge three meals and that would give them even more time to attempt to contact parents."

In a subsequent interview, Love said emphasized her desire for the board to make some meaningful policy changes. "You know, I worked in corrections, and there we had to feed those prisoners a hot meal," she said.

Since the meeting was an open board meeting, Vice President of the Board, Linda Harrison thanked her for her suggestions and promised to take them into consideration.

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