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Norman Public Schools’ board of education renewed multiple contracts, heard updates on the district’s four-year graduation rates and approved progress on several bond projects during a lengthy virtual meeting Monday evening.

During the three-hour-long April 20 meeting, the board approved contract renewals for the district’s certified teachers on a certified teacher contract and for support staff on support employee contracts.

After an hour-long executive session, the board also approved the re-employment or re-assignment of 21 of NPS’ assistant principals, and re-upped NPS superintendent Nick Migliorino’s contract, which will run from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

The board members also heard from a contractor for multiple district bond projects on bids from subcontractors, which the board voted to award Monday. Administrators have said that bond project progress will continue as usual during the COVID-19 crisis, with precautions taken where necessary.

After presentations from contractor Manhattan Construction Company, the board awarded construction projects at Longfellow Middle School and the Nancy O’Brian Performing Arts Center to various subcontractors, who will perform everything from demolition to electrical work.

The board also saw fly-through video views of the plans for updates to Truman, Monroe and Jackson elementary schools. Christian Ballard, vice president of Boynton Williams and Associates Architects, presented the plans, telling the board that during its next meeting, he will present the last of the 16 school design plans that BWA is handling.

The board also heard from Scott Beck, director of secondary student services, who showed board members the growth in the district’s four-year graduation rates over the last few years. Beck’s presentation focused on graduation data from the 2018-2019 school year, showing that four-year graduation rates rose across the district from 2016 to 2019, when the adjusted district-wide four-year rate stood at 91%.

Beck told the board that the growth is due to a number of factors, including an increased focus on accuracy in the district’s data reporting and a focus on connecting with and monitoring each individual student.

NPS’ Freshman Academy, which helps ninth graders make a smooth transition from middle school to high school, has been “critical” in giving young high school students the support they need to stay involved and enrolled, Beck said. Supports like individualized plans for on-time graduation, the district’s online ExpandED and Norman Net programs and block scheduling for students who need a different class flow have also been essential in working with students’ individual graduation-focused needs, Beck said.

Board member Cindy Nashert asked Beck how the district can further work toward its goal of achieving a 100% four-year graduation rate, to which Beck responded that "so much of the work we would want to do to make that happen is already in place.” To achieve an even higher graduation rate, the district will continue to push and evolve current resources and wraparound student services, Beck said.

In his update to the board Monday night, Migliorino said that the district should be receiving about $2 million from the national CARES Act, and that the district is currently working on a plan for using the one-time aid money. The district is also waiting to hear more about the federal education stimulus money that is currently at Gov. Kevin Stitt’s disposal.

Migliorino also told the board that NPS is “well on our way” to planning virtual graduation ceremonies, which are scheduled for May 21 and 22 for Norman North and Norman High, respectively. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, NPS will also hold its annual Celebration of Excellence virtually this year to announce recognitions like teacher of the year.

Emma Keith

366-3537

Follow me @emma_ckeith

ekeith@normantranscript.com

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