The Woodward News

Local News

January 10, 2013

State's top education official spends day in Woodward

Woodward, Okla. — State School Superintendent Janet Barresi spent a busy day in Woodward on Wednesday.

Barresi had several meetings with different groups during her visit, in which she attempted to address concerns and answer questions about a variety of issues facing education.

MEETING WITH AREA SUPERINTENDENTS

Barresi's day began with a conference with district superintendents from schools all over Northwest Oklahoma stretching from Clinton to the Panhandle.

Woodward Superintendent Tim Merchant described the session as "an open and honest question and answer discussion."

He said topics discussed during the morning session included testing, teacher shortages, teacher evaluations, professional development for teachers, and the state's education budget, "which in turn affects our budget on a district level."

"From a personal perspective for our district (Woodward), 2 of the big things that were discussed were teacher shortages and budget," Merchant said.  "We're really needing the State Department of Education to step in on a statewide level and help with recruitment and retention.  We need something, whether that's through additional money to increase salaries or more training to provide our teachers with more confidence, which again comes back to financing because professional development is not cheap."

Merchant said another idea suggested by the area superintendents is to "form a statewide task force committee."

"We need to get the experts together and just figure out what can we do to get more teachers.  That includes involving universities because there are fewer students going into teacher training programs; we need to change that," he said.

Barresi said she appreciated the "frank discussion" generated during the meeting with the area school superintendents.

"Any time I have the opportunity to get out to an area and visit with and listen to superintendents, it's always valuable," Barresi said, noting that it helps her do a better job of policy and program development.

"To be in their environment and to hear about their concerns helps me to bring those back to my department and the legislature and to include in my communications with Governor Fallin," she said.

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