Citing a recent survey that showed just 13 percent of OKC community members are satisfied with the state of the OKC district, Neu outlined five critical issues he wants to address as a part of his 100 Day Transition Plan Report. Those critical issues include increasing academic performance, especially among minority students, building safety, overcrowding on the districts southside, improving central office support and embracing new innovation and technology.
This is not a finger pointing exercise, this is the state of our schools, Neu said.
Neus presentation came in front of one of the largest school board crowds and gathering of media outlets in the past few years. While he has continually called his new position a great opportunity, Neu took a somber town Monday in discussing the districts challenges, which many in the audience were well aware of.
Neu presented dozens of goals and there are more on the way as The Great Conversation community forum continues its work on developing district benchmarks. You will find a special Web page in the coming days that will offer an organized list of those goals and regular updates on how the district is doing at meeting those goals.
But following Neus presentation at Mondays school board meeting, here are four things to know.
1) Wont rob Peter to pay Paul
While the reaction on Twitter during Neus presentation Monday night was generally positive, some were skeptical at how the district could commit more resources to struggling schools without taking away from schools that are demonstrating success.
Its a valid concern considering the actions of the district in recent years, but Neu said that would not happen on his watch.
I will not take anything from [successful] schools ... I will not rob Peter to pay Paul, Neu said in an interview Tuesday. Nobody will lose anything to shift costs or expenditures elsewhere.
Neu said the district would look for money from private sources and a 2016 bond issue could also provide funds for building upgrades that Neu said were sorely needed.
2) Minority report
Neu wants to see academic improvement in all students, but in his presentation he spoke directly about the need to focus more on African American students, especially boys.
Just 49 percent African American students in grades third through eighth are considered proficient in reading. Sixty percent of students of all races living in poverty are proficient in reading.
We need to focus on our African American students, Neu said. There is a double hit of living in poverty and being African American in Oklahoma City.
Graduation rates by race show that African American students do better than all other groups except Asian students. However, Neu said that was an indication that many African American students are being unfairly advanced or drop out of school.
With the poor academic performance shown among our African American students, compared to the number of Hispanic students graduating, there is reason to believe that there has been a practice of passing along some students and exiting other students prematurely, Neu said.
3) Bond, 2016 Bond
Neu addressed the need to pass a 2016 bond proposal that will address school overcrowding, replace an aging bus fleet, improve security systems at schools, update playgrounds and address other improvement needs.
4) Security upgrades
During a time of growing concern over the school security, Neu said the district has just three members of its security team. That's a far cry from the 57 in Tulsa.
Link: You can read Neu's 100 Day Transition Plan report here.