The Woodward News

November 13, 2013

A-F grade system discussed at meeting

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Discussion about the recent agriculture barn fire and the newest version of the school A to F grading system dominated the Woodward Public School Board of Education meeting Monday night.

In an effort to pave the way for swift repairs and rebuilding needed on the Woodward School District's agricultural building, Woodward Superintendent Tim Merchant formally requested the board declare the fire damage to the structure an emergency.

According to Merchant, by doing this, his staff is able to begin immediately hiring a contract manager, a professional fire and water damage service and other construction experts to begin the process of repairing and rebuilding the portions of the structure that must be repaired before livestock can reenter it.

Merchant said after meeting with the insurance adjusters estimated the damage to be upwards of $150,000, including the damage to all the wiring, smoke damage and radiant heat damage that buckled some of the roofing.

"That heat and smoke just found its way straight up and gathered there along at the top, which I guess was a good thing for the little piggies," Merchant said.

Merchant made a special note to thank the City of Woodward and Kevin Kornele for the help in securing a location to move the other animals made homeless by the blaze.

In other business, Woodward High School Principal Kirk Warnick briefed the board on how to read the increasingly controversial Oklahoma State Department of Education A to F school report card.

Compared to schools across the state, Woodward School District fared pretty well, improving its score from last year at the high school and maintaining a solid C district wide, Warnick said.

School Board members Dr. Don Dale and Glenn Billings joined Merchant and several staff members in their assertion that the grade issued them by the state means little or nothing.

"I guess what it gets down to is that our leader (State School Superintendent Janet Barresi) is either the dumbest person alive or the smartest person alive," Dale said. "I think the best thing we can hope for is the exit of the current leader."

Billings said he believes even the time spent discussing the state's effort to whittle down the multifaceted aspects of teaching to one letter grade is a waste of time.

"I think we are all making too much of this," Billings said. "I don't take any stock in this at all. Of the people outside of education, I have never had anyone come up to me and say anything" about the letter grade their school got.

According to Merchant, there still needs to be much more scientific work done on the current scoring system by the state before he can consider it a viable way to even begin determining a school's effectiveness.

Hiring was also on the agenda of the Woodward Board of Education. Hired Monday night were; Leticia Hurst - ECC special education teacher; Pamela Foster - ECC cafeteria worker; Jennifer Applebee - ECC RSA Paraprofessional; Ashley Boren - ECC RSA Paraprofessional; Dustin Weeks - middle school custodian; Megan Boone - Horace Mann 4th grade; Laura William-Jackson - bus driver.