OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education made more significant policy changes Monday night. They approved raises for administrators, certified employees (teachers) and classified employees (support staff). They also honored Chief Financial Officer Jean Bostwick.
Bostwick was honored with a bouquet of flowers and a resolution praising her service to the district since 2003. She said that she has made many wonderful friendships and acquaintances and now is moving on to the “next chapter” in her life with her husband of many years.
Of note was that every year since Bostwick’s arrival the district has received a clean audit — an unusual streak — in the largest traditional school district in the state.
No doubt the big, old institution has been full of pesky and often elusive financial details that would have foiled a lesser person’s efforts.
Records policy changes
The Board’s Policy Committee has been diligently working to clean up layers of policy built up over decades.
Board member Carrie Copernoll Jacobs has been leading the process and presented yet another round of policy proposals Monday.
Up for revision was the district’s policies on records retentions.
Jacobs said that in many cases some records were being kept “infinitely” because there was no expiration rule about certain types of records. Because the district had no clear policy on when to retire records, many have been kept for as long as anyone can remember.
“That’s a lot of paper and storage,” said Jacobs.
In addition, many points of the records retention policy were written to mirror the points of Oklahoma law at the time but have not changed as the laws have changed.
Much of the verbiage was far too detailed and became outdated as soon as the laws changed.
Because of that, a large portion of district policy was stricken and simple language inserted about following the law: “The District will adhere to timelines and methods as prescribed by applicable laws and regulations.”
According to Jacobs in a text exchange with Free Press, the language in Board policy that was stricken will become a matter of regulation instead of Board policy.
“That should all move to regulation now just so that it can change if staffing or processes change without having to come to the full board for approval,” wrote Jacobs.
Open records requests
At some point in previous years the district’s policy on responding to Open Records requests from the media had been added into the OKCPS Record Retention policy.
The policy read: “Media requests for records pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act may be made directly to District’s Communications Office.”
That line was sticken in Monday night’s revisions but not clearly replaced in the new Board policy.
Now, the pathway for responding to Open Records requests will be determined by staff regulation yet to be established rather than Board policy.
On the consent docket along with many other routine purchases for sports equipment and repairs was an item concerning Classen School for Advanced Studies (SAS) at Northeast, formerly Northeast High School and later Northeast Academy, then a small neighborhood high school.
The transition from Northeast Academy to the new home of Classen SAS was controversial among residents of the east side, especially graduates of one of the iterations of school in the building on N. Kelley.
New District 1 Board Member Carol Thompson cited agenda item 16.01. It read: “Approve Architectural and Mechanical Engineering Services for Classen School of Advanced Studies High School at Northeast Auditorium HVAC Renovation Project.”
In a sign that feelings are still somewhat raw about Northeast High School, Thompson noted that before the building became the home of Classen SAS, the HVAC system needed renovation but never happened until Classen SAS moved in. “I just wanted to point that out,” said Thompson.
Another item was also on the consent docket to establish a new maximum price for architectural design and engineering to follow through on promises that the alumni of the former Northeast Academy and High School would be honored with an alumni room and other design features throughout the campus that would remind the current students of the schools’s proud heritage.
Contract negotiations with the administrators’ union and the unions for teachers and support staff were approved by the Board Monday night.
Administrators and teachers will receive a step raise in their respective contracts. Support staff will receive a .25 cent increase in their hourly pay.
All will receive a retention bonus of some sort.
Details are in the following letters sent to each group after the Board meeting concluded Monday night.
Last Updated August 9, 2021, 10:29 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor