Tax dollars should be spent where they make the most impact.
Norman Public Schools currently pays our superintendent $300,000 yearly, an outrageous number that is third in the state for superintendent pay only behind the superintendent pay of Oklahoma City Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools. Last year, NPS spent almost 6.5 million dollars on administrative costs, a larger percentage of its budget expenditures than was spent by Moore, Edmond, Yukon, Jenks, Med-Del, or Putnam City. There is no reason Norman should be paying our superintendent more than a quarter of a million dollars every year when every single school in Norman has unaddressed staffing needs.
Reduce the expenditures on admin from 3.34% of the budget to 3% of the budget (compared to 2% in Moore and 2.7% in Edmond), saving around $600,000. Reinvest this money into an extra counselor and a testing coordinator at each secondary site, to improve mental health services for students, reduce the workload of counselors and teachers, and improve active supervision in our schools.
The people making decisions for our community should be accountable to the community.
The Norman Public Schools Board of Education has made a bad habit of abdicating their responsibility to make tough decisions by giving free reign to the superintendent to make lasting and impactful policy decisions. However, unlike the Board, the superintendent is not an elected official, and relegating the responsibility to make these important decisions to him or her means that voters lose their right to have a say in how their community's schools are run.
Additionally, in recent years, rarely if ever has the Board had a split vote on any issue. In fact, district leadership has made statements in the past that if the board is split on an issue at the time of the meeting regarding the vote on that issue, that the board has failed. Reserving discussion on any issue for meetings behind closed doors and out of the public eye also serves to dodge accountability from the public.
Parents and Students are not "customers".
As a teacher, I believe that parents and teachers should be equal partners in a child's education. Distressingly, Norman has in the past few years begun to assign more and more importance to a "customer service" model which positions school employees as providers of a product to their customers. In this model, what should be a positive and co-equal relationship meant to benefit the students is unbalanced, causing the educational environment to suffer. Teachers are disempowered, and schools are put in a position of trying to keep all parents happy, even when doing so would open the district up to lawsuits or to avoid addressing concerning behavior. Public schools are not a business, but rather are a service meant to benefit every child, not just ones with influential or vocal parents.
Norman Public Schools should issue a resolution to move away from a customer service model and reiterate its commitment to parents and school staff working together for the education of every child regardless of who they are. Norman Public Schools should also refrain from public communications that demean the project of public education by reducing it to a simple transactional relationship.
As a school board member, I promise to be transparent about any major decisions being made in NPS, and to include the public in making those decisions as much as possible. I also promise never to relinquish the authority of the board to anyone who can't be held directly accountable by the public.
District Admin and BOE members should be in classrooms.
In the years I spent as a teacher in Norman Public Schools, I saw a school board member physically in a school building exactly twice. Neither times were they taking the time to talk to teachers, counselors, students, or parents about educational goals or concerns. I believe that if someone is a leader in the district in any capacity, that they should make it a priority to be on the ground growing and learning with the students and staff.
As a school board member, I pledge to listen to the people who know what schools need the most, coming into the schools twice a month, shadowing teachers and counselors and making myself available to speak with parents and students about anything they want.