May 27, 2011

Letter to Chickasha Board of Ed and Chickasha community

The Express-Star

— To the Chickasha Board of Education

and the Chickasha community:


When faced with struggle and adversity, the Chickasha community has always responded in whatever ways possible to address, assist, and alleviate the situation.

Unfortunately, the storms this past week have reminded all of us that situations happen over which we have no control. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their houses, possessions, and loved ones in this week’s storms. The Chickasha community will help those who need help.

Now let’s apply the gumption and spirit of the Chickasha community to the situation that Chickasha Public Schools continue to face. Due to circumstances that the school and the Board of Education have no control over (legislative actions and neglect, the economy, etc.), Chickasha Public Schools are facing a 4.1% cut over what was received this year in state revenues and aid.

At the last Board meeting, which was a Reduction in Force (RIF) hearing for six well loved and respected school principals, the Chickasha Board of Education made a well thought out decision by directing the superintendent to conduct site meetings at each of the schools to come up with cost saving ideas for this year and the future.

Teachers and administrators conducted those meetings in one way or another and those ideas were presented to the superintendent last week.

I might add that the Education Support Professionals (bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, cooks, teachers’ assistants, maintenance people, and others) were left out of those meetings, but did have a meeting on their own and came up with several very good ideas to save money at Chickasha schools.

All of the cost saving ideas were presented to the superintendent by Friday of that week, but even before those ideas had time to be considered, the superintendent made the decision to continue with the RIF of three of the principals who had previously faced reduction in the earlier board meeting.

The question begs answering, “Why were the employees of Chickasha Public Schools asked for ideas, and when were those ideas to be considered?"

Obviously the Board of Education made a prudent decision when they delayed the RIF hearings until other cost saving ideas could be considered, but when were the ideas considered and by whom were they considered?

The Board of Education will not even receive the ideas until the May 31 Board meeting.

So the message to the Chickasha Board of Education seems to be, “Short term solutions may work for the immediate future, but the situation that Chickasha and the rest of Oklahoma faces is not going away soon. Until legislators recognize the importance of public schools and quit making decisions that are damaging to public schools as well as other public services, schools and other services will continue to face shortages. The cost saving ideas recommended by the faculty and support professionals have merit and can be accomplished with effort on everybody’s part. It can’t be just the administration, or just the teachers, or just the support professionals. The effort has to be by all involved, including the community.”

The Chickasha Board of Education made the proper decision  at the last board meeting.

I have faith that the Board will continue to make well considered decisions and take the lead in helping the schools and the community weather this financial crisis, just as the Chickasha community will assist those who suffered loss in the storms.

 Bruce Treadaway

Oklahoma Education Association