The Norman Transcript

July 16, 2013

Norman School Board members hear update on upcoming emergency plan evaluation

Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Intensive summer preparation for school year 2013-2014 is well under way, as new personnel, bond issue projects, professional development and procedure were prominent topics at Monday’s Norman School Board meeting.

Following a brief executive session, the board approved hiring Oklahoma City Public Schools educator Andrew Graham as Alcott Middle School’s new assistant principal. Graham comes to the district from Jackson Middle School.

Superintendent Joe Siano updated the board on upcoming emergency plan development/evaluation for the district through a contract with the nonprofit safety center Safe Havens International.

“This next couple of weeks, we’ll work with this organization to develop a crisis plan template to have a unified procedure for each school site to expand upon. A lot of reducing injuries has to do with being calm and prepared during emergencies, and we believe this is an important piece of preparation,” Siano said.

Siano also remarked on the district’s current preparation priorities — budget and staffing — as Norman Public Schools waits on its allocation of state funds, as well as responding to comments made by State Superintendent Janet Barresi earlier this month concerning state assessments.

“I’d like to clarify to the board, since we’ve talked a lot about assessment and challenges with testing, specifically the server crash throughout the state — none of those issues had anything to do with infrastructure. The district was well prepared,” Siano said. “That’s not to say online testing isn’t a challenge, but we were ready.

“I checked with my colleagues in large neighboring districts including Edmond, Mid Del, Moore — none of them reported infrastructure problems. Initial reports clearly indicated this was a capacity problem for the testing company. How this became a district problem is something we’re trying to get answers about.”

An update on 2009 Bond Issue projects was presented, showing that the only outstanding projects are renovations to Norman and Norman North high schools’ gymnasiums and continued construction of the administrative services facility.

“The curriculum center will be finished in October and we’ll begin moving personnel around, the board room will be finished in late November, and we hope to have our December meeting in the new facility. Final renovations will be completed in January and all staff will be in their intended locations by spring break 2014,” Assistant Superintendent Roger Brown said.

Assistant Superintendent Shirley Simmons provided a summary of extensive professional development currently under way for the district’s teachers and administrators, including pre-AP training for middle school language instruction, Common Core implementation training, reading and math strategies, and training through the Oklahoma Mentor Network.

“We’ve been working in math and language arts for Common Core. We’ve really been focusing on instructional strategies to meet the standards,” Simmons said.

“We have a very strong implementation plan and we really believe, reviewing the standards and teacher/leader standards, that this is a much better direction for our teachers and students to go in education for life beyond high school,” Siano said.

Teachers will return to school Aug. 15 for induction and training.