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Board Report - June 11

Originally posted June 12, 2018

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Board makes no changes to next year’s school calendar

Kirt HartzlerAfter careful consideration from the public, Union’s Board of Education voted not to revise the calendar for the coming year.

At the request of teachers, Superintendent Kirt Hartzler (pictured left) had proposed amending the calendar to include a day off for Election Day in November, as well as other changes.

The proposed changes were made available for public comment for 30 days.  “Overwhelmingly, there were concerns about the new calendar, more from the standpoint of schedule conflicts,” said Hartzler.  “Many families have booked vacations and airlines with the original dates in mind.  It’s not that parents don’t support our teachers.  So we will be sticking with the calendar originally proposed in March.”

Charlie Bushyhead named Associate Superintendent as Board approves several administration changes

Charlie BushyheadCharlie Bushyhead (pictured left) was officially named Associate Superintendent as Board members approved a number of administration changes at the request of Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler.

Dr. Hartzler notified district staff of the planned changes last month, which come in the wake of Dr. Kathy Dodd’s departure as associate superintendent for Teaching and Learning. She has left to take a new position with the national Project Lead the Way program.

In a letter shared with staff, Hartzler stated, “After 19 years with Union, Dr. Dodd has made an incredible contribution, and we will miss her greatly.  We wish her well following her passion for growing STEM, and know other programs will benefit from this investment. We are so fortunate to have a deep bench of talent from which to draw so that we do not have to go out and do national searches to find successors.  Our preference has always been to ‘grow our own’.” 

As a result, Hartzler has asked Charlie Bushyhead to step in and serve as Associate Superintendent. 

“Bushyhead has been a trusted colleague for more than 30 years, and will serve in my stead when I am away from the district.  Charlie will oversee Teaching & Learning, while retaining Support Services.  Given the passage of the new bond and the magnitude of the upcoming projects, it is essential that Charlie continue to watch and manage these critical items.  He has had vast experience as a building principal, Executive Director of Secondary Education, and as Assistant Superintendent of Support Services.  I can think of no one better suited to serve as Associate Superintendent,” Hartzler said.

Sandi CalvinSandi Calvin (pictured left) was named the Senior Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, while Theresa Kiger, formerly principal at Clark, will succeed her as Executive Director of Elementary Education. John Federline, who had served as principal at the 9th Grade Center, was named the Executive Director of Secondary Education.

Lisa Witcher will serve as Senior Executive Director of Instructional Services, which will include concurrent enrollment, Early College High School, the Career Connect program and curriculum specialists.  In addition, she will also oversee the implementation of new literacy and math programs, as the rollout of this new curriculum is critical to the success of our students. (View a listing of all the administrators.)

“Lisa’s work has been truly transformational for our district and will continue to blossom under her leadership,” Hartzler said.

Dr. Todd Nelson was named Senior Executive Director of Research-Assessment-Design. He will continue to preside over the district’s testing programs and the Union Enrollment Center, and will continue to be responsible for legal/compliance issues.

“Dr. Nelson is highly involved in the formulation of our district’s new five-year strategic plan with OU Tulsa,” Hartzler said. “We expect to unveil the new plan later this year.”

The Board also approved the appointment of Deborah Wolin as Director of Special Services, following the retirement of Penelope Kay, and the appointment of Sherri Fair as Associate Director of Federal Programs. It is expected that Fair will eventually replace Jackie White, who is expected to retire as Director of Federal Programs in December.

Board members also approved a number of principals for the 2018-2019 school year, including Tammy Ward, 7th Grade; Kenneth Moore, 9th Grade; Michelle Spencer, Cedar Ridge Elementary; Alicia Ewing, Clark Elementary; and Jackie DuPont, Rosa Parks Elementary.

Note: Gart Morris, who serves as Executive Director of Instructional Technology, will assume extra duties by providing oversight of the Fine Arts area, working with Matthew McCready, Director of Fine Arts. “Gart is a former band director and will do a great job in this role,” Hartzler said.

Board moves forward with design phase for High School stadium project

Board members approved a spending amendment of $757,412 for the design development phase of the Union High School expansion and remodel project.

“This amendment is the first part of our architectural agreement Phase II design activities, which consists of completing design development and creating construction documents,” explained Fred Isaacs, Director of Construction Services.

The amendment will provide for the production of design development and construction documents for the east-side stadium renovation. It also will provide for design development and construction documents for the utility construction of the project, and will provide design development documents for the West side stadium and athletic facility. Subsequent amendment packages will be submitted for board approval, which will comprise of design development packages for the band building and the high school interior improvements.

The design package is scheduled to be completed and ready to advertise for bidding in April 2019, Isaacs said.

Board approves purchases of 23 buses, new student ID transportation system

Board members approved the purchase of 17 new school buses, four special education buses, and two activity buses, costing $2.5 million.

Voters approved a bond issue last February that provided funding for the new buses.

In a related matter, the Board approved an agreement with Zonar Systems for a new transportation student identification system at a cost of $296,304.

The Support Services department, in conjunction with the Teaching and Learning department, will implement the new student rider identification program with a rollout to all elementary sites this fall. Union will expand the system to secondary systems afterwards. The system will help track students' entry and exit off buses, and will indicate when a student is getting on the incorrect bus or off at the wrong stop.. The system confirms the daily routing information and alerts the bus driver, both visually and audibly, of exceptions, so corrective action can be taken immediately. The system also allows for GPS tracking of all vehicles with an installed tracker.

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Union to spend up to $2.5 million on new textbooks, software

Thanks to voter approval in February for the issuance of bonds, the Board agreed to spend up to $1.5 million to purchase textbooks and software for the 2018-2019 school year for all grade levels. Board members also approved spending up to $1 million for textbooks and software using general funds for all grade levels.

In related matters, the Board approved a software subscription for $168,000 from Florida Virtual Schools for online content used by the Union Virtual Academy, and expending up to $300,000 for Project Lead the Way materials such as kits, robotics hardware and supplies.

Board members awarded the low bid of $79,659 to Smartboard Interactive Displays for 30 new SmartBoards at Darnaby Elementary, using bond funds approved by voters.

Help desk on the way for students as part of 1-to-1 Initiative

Board members accepted the bid of $54,000 from Keith Construction Co. for the construction of a new help desk at the High School as part of the district’s new 1-to-1 Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to provide at least one electronic learning device to each student such as laptops or iPads. Starting this fall, freshmen will be the first class to receive such devices.

The new help desk will be constructed for assisting students with any technical needs that may occur with their school laptops. The area proposed for the modifications is the current High School IT Tech Area. The work will consist of some masonry demolition, installation of a new millwork help counter, and new walls, doors, flooring, and lighting. The project is expected to occur during the summer break.

Board approves agreements with UCTA, USPA

The Board of Education approved agreemennts with the Union Classroom Teacher Association and the Union Support Personnel Association, which will include raises for employees. Raises will vary and be contingent upon many factors, including certification and experience.

The contract with teachers calls for a district-funded raise to be more competitive with area districts. The Board also approved a memorandum of understanding with UCTA to revisit teacher salaries once the issue of funding teacher raises is fully resolved.  Oklahoma approved a teacher raise of $6,000, average, but a petition referendum underway by former Senator Tom Coburn, if successful, could undermine the funding mechanism for the raise.  Otherwise, Union will not be paying the state’s raise until the funding issue has been fully resolved.

Furthermore, the Board approved one-time 5 percent stipends for employees to be paid in July. New employees, who began work before February 15, may receive a prorated stipend.

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