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OKC school officials confident as new academic year begins



With Oklahoma City children returning to class today, district officials' message during a regular board meeting Monday night was one of preparation and confidence.


New Superintendent John Q. Porter said a team of 81 people from the district's central office had been identifying concerns at each school in the last month in an attempt to address potential issues before class began.


"We feel very confident that we're going to get off to a good school year," he said.



Senior Human Resources Officer Michael Shanahan reported the district's schools were 97.4 percent staffed, with 2,500 certified teachers in place. Out of about 730 vacancies, the district has hired 668 certified personnel, he said, with 65 positions still open. About 40 of the jobs are core-teacher vacancies.


Last year this time, 105 jobs still were open, Shanahan said.



In other business, the board approved moving forward with MAPS for Kids projects at Mark Twain Elementary School and Putnam Heights Elementary School, both $2.3 million remodeling and addition efforts.


New construction at Mark Twain will begin next March for a December 2008 finish. Putnam Heights, built in 1909, is the oldest district building still used as a school. Construction there should begin fall 2008, with the school ready for full occupancy by fall of 2009. "Emily Jerman

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