A clever reader shared this detailed info with me this morning in an email about the Nichols Hills Elementary gym project. (It’s one of those times as a reporter that you wish you would have had it yesterday! Doh!) I’ll be honest. I’ve never heard of the phrase “geotechnical report,” so I have definitely learned something new today!
I just looked at the geotechnical report for Nichols Hills Elementary and it shows the Gym to be on the west side. The geotechnical investigation and report are completed prior to the structural plans. The geotechnical investigation was authorized on 3/14/2008! The report was issued on 5/27/2008. If you follow this link: http://www.okc.gov/agendapub/agdocs.aspx?doctype=agenda&itemid=63818, you can look at some of the plans and the geotechnical report (especially the “Plan of Borings” page) in Addendum 1. I don’t know what the people on Glenwood were told, but as far as the architect and the City is concerned (Building Permit was issued on 11/28/2011), that Gym was always going to be on the west side, right up against their backyard fence.
I’ll have a story in the paper tomorrow about the Oklahoma City Public Schools school board meeting, but I wanted to post a list here of the contracts and agreements they approved here. A few notes about this list …
It includes only things of $100,000 or above. I didn’t include things previous ratified. I didn’t include things lumped together that totaled more than $100,000 that had multiple contractors. I didn’t include things that didn’t have specific contractors/sellers, such as the board giving the district the right to pay for things as they arise within a certain budget. Everything’s rounded to the nearest dollar. If you’d like to read the full list of all 10 bajillion contracts, just click here. Easy as pie.
So, without further adieu …
- Oklahoma Roofing and Sheet Metal, roofing and repairs, $15 million.
- PATCO, electrical repair, $15 million.
- Schuler Enterprises, plumbing repairs and service, $15 million.
- Hardesty Team Heating and Air Conditioning, chiller repair, $14 million.
- Commercial Roofing, roof repairs and replacements, $10 million.
- Oklahoma School Assurance Group, worker’s compensation insurance, $5,062,294.
- Apple Computer, technology and service, $4 million.
- Dell Computer, technology and service, $4 million.
- Ace Transfer and Storage, moving and storage, $3 million.
- Hiland Dairy Foods, milk, $2.6 million.
- Cooks Fencing, repair and replacement, $2.5 million.
- Buddy’s Produce, produce delivered to schools, $2.2 million.
- Pearson Agreement, professional development, $2 million.
- Independent Insurance Agents of Greater Oklahoma City, property and casualty insurance, $1,861,628.
- Sodexo, food service, $1,428,655.
- SAP, software, $1,249,142.
- RobertsTruckCenter, bus parts, $1.2 million.
- Core Knowledge, elementary school reform supplies, $1 million.
- Great Expectations Institutes, professional development, $1 million.
- Siemans Industry, heating and air repairs and maintenance, $1 million.
- Hunzicker Brothers, electrical supplies, $800,000.
- Office Depot, office supplies, $750,000.
- Voss Lighting, lamps, $750,000.
- Chartwells, child nutrition, $585,000.
- Edusoft, benchmark assessments, $532,837.
- Connections Learning Virtual Learning Programs, full-time virtual education program, $500,000.
- Johnson Controls, heating and air repairs and maintenance, $500,000.
- Oklahoma Department of Central Services, various vendors, $500,000.
- Central Oklahoma Winnelson, plumbing supplies, $500,000.
- Johnstone Supplies, heating and air supplies, $450,000.
- Fuzzell’s Business Equipment, toner cartridge supplies, $410,000.
- Woods Labor and Staffing, temporary landscaping labor, $380,000.
- MetroTech educational services dropout recovery and prevention program, $360,000.
- TransPar Group, transportation, $358,720.
- Marzano Research Laboratory, professional development, $357,500 atCentennialHigh Schooland $175,000 atDouglassHigh School.
- MASSCO Maintenance, custodial supplies, $350,000.
- Waste Management, trash service, $350,000.
- Allied Steel, crane service, $300,000.
- Federal Corporation, boiler repair, $300,000.
- MASSCO Maintenance, copy paper, $300,000.
- AT&T, hosting of SAP, $296,984.
- Center for Education Law, basic legal services, $250,000.
- Hardesty Team Heating and Air Conditioning, repairs and maintenance, $250,000.
- Harris House Moving Contractors, moving services, $250,000 and $150,000.
- Shannon Construction, building repairs, $250,000.
- Youth Cornerstone, truancy program, $192,000.
- EMC Hardware, network storage, $168,958.
- Dell, backup hardware, $167,820.
- Gates-MacGinitie, student tests, $164,585.
- Life Excelerator – Assessment of Personal Skills, teacher training, $163,250.
- Presort First Class, mail service, $160,000.
- ACT, testing supplies, $150,000.
- Filtertec, air filters, $150,000.
- R&R Delivery, courier mail, $125,000.
- Discovery Education, web and video service, $115,000.
- Smartweb Technology Programs, license, $106,061.
- Reliance Medical Sales, medical supplies, $106,000.
- American Eleveator Service, inspection and repair, $100,000.
- Hardesty Team Heating and Air Conditioning, boiler repair, $100,000.
- Magic Services, cafeteria laundering, $100,000.
A former official with Oklahoma City Public Schools who seems to be followed by controversy has landed a new job. Alan Ingram has been named the deputy commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Ingram worked as the executive director of federal programs and then the chief accountability officer for Oklahoma City Public Schools. He worked under John Q. Porter, the controversial superintendent who resigned after less than a year in the position. Ingram announced that he was a finalist for superintendent positions in Putnam City and Tacoma, Wash., though he was hired shortly after as the superintendent for schools in Springfield, Mass.
I’ve watched this several times now, and I’m not going to lie: I get a little emotional. My daughter is only two years out from attending Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools created this video for their annual campaign. They go to many schools and interview all kinds of people – students, volunteers, teachers, administrators. I saw several faces I recognized from spending a week at John Marshall High School. One of those was Ashley Bahtahou. (You can see her at about 1:35 into the video.) I didn’t interview her, but I saw her so many times throughout the week. She’s one of those students who is involved in everything, and you can tell that she’s respected and admired by other students. She was phenomenal during track practice. She was fast, sure, but she was so encouraging of her other teammates. She’s a neat kid.
What she said in the video was so striking to me because it’s the same thing I’ve heard over and over from students and teachers throughout the district: our reputation doesn’t reflect reality. Set aside the reputation and whether you think it’s deserved. To me, the saddest thing is that those kids all know what the city thinks of them. They know what the community says about Oklahoma City Public Schools. Children shouldn’t feel like the world around them expects them to fail. They should feel like everyone expects them to succeed.
Auditors have discovered three secret banks accounts used by the state Education Department. Check back to NewsOK.com for more as this develops. Here’s the auditor’s press release for now:
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Auditor Gary Jones released a supplemental investigative report today requested by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
This supplemental investigative report follows an initial special audit report released January 4, 2012, which reviewed travel claims by a former state education department official.
“Superintendent Janet Barresi and the state School Board originally asked for a special audit regarding some suspicious travel claims by a former employee,” said State Auditor Gary Jones. “Information came to light during that investigation that suggested a much bigger problem had existed at the State Department of Education.
“We brought the information to the attention of Superintendent Barresi and requested permission to continue to investigate the existence of a previously unknown bank account,” Jones said. “We appreciate her full support and assistance in this matter.”
During the course of this limited investigation, the State Auditor became aware of three unauthorized, previously unknown bank accounts that were utilized as a slush fund to spend more than $2.3 million over a 10-year period. The use of these accounts allowed former State Education Department Officials to issue payments shielded from government oversight as well as public scrutiny.
SAI investigators spent many hours reviewing documents and conducting interviews during the course of this investigation.
The supplemental investigative report is available at the State Auditor’s website, www.sai.ok.gov
Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, came up with this idea. Here’s a press release he sent out:
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives would “give teeth” to the School District Transparency Act, according to the bill’s author.
Under House Bill 2644, by state Rep. David Brumbaugh, school districts and the Oklahoma Board of Education would lose funding if they fail to comply with the School District Transparency Act.
“I authored this bill because taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent in our schools and lawmakers need to have financial data to make appropriation decisions,” said Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow).
The legislation authorizes the Office of State Finance to withhold administrative and support funds from the Oklahoma State Board of Education if it does not include data on its website required by the School District Transparency Act. The withholding would be 1 percent of total appropriations for administrative and support functions and would increase by 1 percent for each subsequent month of noncompliance. If noncompliance continued after five months, 8 percent would be withheld.
“The main thrust of this bill is to get more data posted online at the state level, but I also felt that we should address school districts,” Brumbaugh said. “I did try to give the school districts a lot of leeway so they are not punished for an honest mistake, but only for being out of compliance for months and months.”
House Bill 2644 was approved by a vote of 87-2 and now proceeds to the Senate for consideration.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Now that many lawmakers are calling for a freeze on judicial pay and the salaries of all statewide officeholders, state Rep. Jason Nelson said it’s time to also freeze school superintendent salaries.
“Last year we saw hundreds of instances of superintendents getting pay raises while furloughing teachers and increasing class sizes,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “If it doesn’t make sense to give statewide officeholders a pay raise while Oklahoma is climbing out of recession, the same thing holds true for school superintendents at a time when education budgets have been cut. They should not be getting pay raises when teachers are being asked to do more with less.”
In a recent report, Oklahoma Watchdog found that 356 Oklahoma district superintendents (more than two-thirds) received some form of compensation increase this year. The combined expense of those raises was an extra $1.4 million annually.
Oklahoma Watchdog found that 37 of the superintendents receiving raises oversaw districts placed on the State Department of Education’s “Needs Improvement” list and 16 of those individuals received raises of $5,000 or more .
The Board of Judicial Compensation recently recommended pay increases for judges. Since the compensation of judges and statewide officials is linked, both would get a raise under that proposal.
State Rep. Scott Inman, leader of the House Democratic caucus, has been one of the most vocal critics of potential pay increases for statewide officeholders even though none of those officials could receive a salary increase during their current term in office.
Nelson said the Del City lawmaker should now join him in opposing superintendent pay raises.
“To protect school funding, we have to do more than oppose phantom pay raises that no current statewide officeholder is eligible to receive,” Nelson said. “It is ridiculous to complain about phantom pay raises for current statewide elected officials while ignoring $1.4 million in real pay raises for superintendents across the state.”
Last year, Nelson filed House Bill 1746 to require schools to spend at least 65 percent of funds on direct instructional activities within three years.
That bill included a provision that would have prevented superintendents from furloughing teachers without first having their financial plan reviewed by the State Board of Education so that classroom teachers would be protected.
“My legislation would have protected teachers from layoffs and furloughs, yet it was opposed by superintendents and their allies, including Representative Inman,” Nelson said. “I hope he and other opponents will now join me in standing up for teachers.”
Nelson praised State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, who announced she would not accept a pay raise when the issue was first raised this month.
“Superintendent Barresi did the right thing for Oklahoma students,” Nelson said. “Given that many local school superintendents are paid more than the governor or state superintendent, there is clearly no reason for local administrators to get a pay raise at the expense of teachers and classroom funding. It’s time to freeze superintendent pay.”
Educators should be paid like babysitters, says EducationNews.org columnist Robert Archer, who’s going on his 13th year as an English teacher in Washington state. They should be paid baby-sitting wages not to insult them over the work they do, but because he figures they would make more money. Archer admits he doesn’t have all the kinks worked out for his idea, which is based on what his children’s babysitter charges, but it’s an intriguing one to read nonetheless — just click here.
Meanwhile, this article from Education Week illustrates what some school districts nationwide are facing as the economy stumbles. Their actions, such as halting new school construction, are compounded by worries about future hits if sales tax revenue declines further as consumer spending constricts.
And this bit of news out of Tulsa gives a glimpse into how the state’s largest district is dealing with both factors: teacher pay and a tight budget.
Share your thoughts on teacher pay and school funding — particularly the views in the above links — below in the comments section.
-PERSONAL LOOK AT DISTRICT LAYOFFS: More than 60 central office employees in the Dallas school district were shown the door at the start of this week, and more cuts – including teachers - could be on the way later today as officials try to remedy an $84 million budget shortfall. Here’s a view on the situation from Donald Claxton, who briefly headed the communications department at Oklahoma City Public Schools under former Superintendent John Porter after working in the Dallas district.
-BOYCOTT MOVES TO THE BALL FIELD: An Illinois state senator from Chicago took his stab at school funding reform to last night’s playoff game between the Cubs and the Dodgers last night. Sen. James Meeks also led a student boycott of lower performing schools at the start of the year.
-CONFUSING STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: This Washington Post story talks about a literacy program’s assessments that start on a seemingly arbitrary scale of 2 to 16 and then switch to the letters J through P. I’m not questioning the scale or the program there, but the article did make me think about whether parents can always understand how their students are evaluated.
This is a follow-up to a story link I posted a while back.
Hundreds of students in Illinois are spending the first day of classes trying to enroll in higher-performing schools instead of in seats at their home sites. Students and their parents say they hope their protest will highlight disparities in Chicagoans’ education along the socioeconomic divide.
People on both sides of the issue have compelling arguments: one side saying the protest sends the wrong message to kids, the other saying that taking a stand is their best shot at rectifying an unequal education system. Which camp do you fall into?
Read the full story here, and then share your thoughts.