Susan Powell, Eisenhower Elementary principal, who first entered Norman schools when she was completing student teaching in the 1980s, said there is a comfort level to the community feel that the open concept gives Eisenhower, but that safety is paramount.
“It’s time changes were implemented,” she said. “...Safety is an ongoing conversation, and we do drills every year and have safety procedures in place. But enclosing classrooms will limit the access visitors have to students. The more barriers between intruders you don’t want in your school and students the better.”
Additionally, Montie Koehn, Kennedy Elementary principal, said she believed enclosing the classrooms at Kennedy would be beneficial by making the school less overwhelming to pre-K and kindergarten students and by providing teachers with more storage opportunities.
“Cluttered classrooms can be very distracting,” she said. “Enclosing classrooms will provide for more storage space and a neater learning area.”
Both NPS principals said that noise levels during testing would become less of a concern with enclosed classrooms and that teachers might be able to utilize new or different activities and lessons that would not have been appropriate previously due to noise level.
Norman Public Schools’ Board of Education member Julie Raadschelders said she believes school safety is a foundational cornerstone that supports the educational environment.
“Our students, teachers and staff must feel safe and secure in order to focus on the important business of learning, and our parents and community members need to know that when school is in session, everyone on NPS properties is safe and sound,” Raadschelders said. “Norman has a proud history of passing bond issues and supporting its public schools, and I’m confident that the 2014 bond will continue on that proud path. Per student funding for public education is lower than 2008, but we need to do what we can to continue our progress toward providing a safe and secure environment so all of our students can learn and grow. Passing this bond issue will not raise taxes, but it will raise our confidence in the safety and security of our schools.”