Woodward Public Schools (WPS) Board of Education had lengthy discussions over several action items Monday evening.
The board modified the WPS COVID-19 pandemic plan from mask mandate to masks strongly recommended. The federal CDC guideline for masks on public transportation, including yellow school buses will still be observed.
After much deliberation, the board approved a resolution to join other school districts in legal action against the State Board of Education with a $4,000 cap on fees for representation.
The State Board of Education adopted a resolution on March 25, 2021 to equalize funding between all public schools and charter schools.
“I watched the segment that the state board member did on TV this weekend, and I resented some of the comments that the public education is a kabbalah, that we're some sort of secret society that's protecting its own self interest,” Superintendent Kyle Reynolds said. “Oklahoma schools are ranked extremely low in one category, and that is funding.”
According to Reynolds, it was not a solution, it was a political stunt.
“I don't have any problem approving the resolution, I have a huge problem giving attorneys a blank check,” Board Member Shane Smithton said. “For some reason I don't always trust them.”
Board President Lance Semmel suggested waiting it out in hopes the situation would resolve itself.
“There's not a stipulation of a dollar amount in the resolution, I think that's a cautionary measure,” Reynolds said. “It's my opinion that it makes a statement that when somebody looks at that list of schools that said no that's not right, our name is on that list.”
Board Member Chad Mead suggested $500 as a cap,” I’m just trying to be responsible with the money that we have," he said.
According to Reynolds, the suggested $4,000 amount will come out of the general fund and will not result in the loss of a teacher’s job or loss of resources for students.
The board also discussed Boomer Kids Club. According to Reynolds the daycare has not been profitable for quite some time.
“We totaled from FY 2013/2014 up through the 2019/2020 school year with over $100,000 loss,” Reynolds said. “That number does not reflect the operational overhead... It’s an aging facility that is inefficient.”
That does not include overhead expenses like utilities and building maintenance which they are not charged for, according to Reynolds.
The board voted to discontinue operations for the Boomer Kids Club daycare and after school program effective June 30 with the understanding that everything be done to help the five employees find other employment.
“Obviously, these individuals have the capacity for dealing with kids,” Reynolds said. “And so our first look at that would be to re-employ them in some capacity, if possible in another location throughout the district.”
Though the first look would be at re-employing them in some capacity, Reynolds reminded board members that the district has been in the process of reducing staffing for the last several months.
The board disapproved a renewal agreement with OPAA! Food Management Inc. for the 2021/2022 school year.
“I stand by the action that we took three years ago. I felt like that was merited. At the time, I think we had a great honeymoon period, that things went exceptionally well,” Reynolds said. “We have found, in my opinion, that lately we have seen some corners that have been cut, decisions that were made that were outside of the control of our staff that are here on site.”
Reynolds went on to compliment the staff, saying the director and assistant are extremely competent and capable.
“What I've found is that they're handcuffed to certain decisions that are made outside of their control,” Reynolds added. “The menus are set corporate-wide. Food deliveries arrive with substitutions that staff have no choice in. Supplies have arrived in quantities that our staff had no decision in.”
In the first year, the District lost over $79,000 the first year and over $97,000 the second year.
“We can do it more efficiently and operate more positive revenue basis, moving forward, without being shackled to a third party,” Reynolds recommended.
The board approved appointments of Jordan Ogden as middle school art teacher, pending certification and Karen Suter as Boomer Kids Club assistant teacher.
Retirements were recognized from Alternative Education Director Ken Williams, Pre-K Teacher Leah Anne Williams and Boomer Kids Club/Alternate Education Custodian Gale Brown.
Resignations were accepted from Bus Driver Barbara Hughes, Middle School Art Teacher Tina O’Neal, High School Counselor Michael Claflin, Highland Park First Grade Teacher Alexandra Moore, and Middle School Family and Consumer Science Teacher Abbie Wasson.