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January 26, 2013

Candidates show down over scholastic issues


CHICKASHA — School funding

Copeland said that he is willing to go to the capital to address the school funding issue with elected officials.

Storms said that he has made many trips to the capital for educational as well as medical issues and has developed relationships with elected officials.

Communication with educator employment groups

Storms said that during his time serving on the board, he has never used a reduction in force strategy (RIF) on a teacher.

In 2011, when six principals and assistant principals were facing a possible RIF, the board decided they did not agree with the superintendent's suggested solution.  

"That was the black point in the negotiations," Storms said.

Storms added that he hoped hurt feelings in the past can be made better and that good relationships can remain.

Copeland said that RIF situations shouldn't get to that point.

"Communication is key," he said. Copeland said he also disagrees with letting a teacher go.

"It's like a team. You start cutting out team members, you have a problem," he said. "If we have to RIF teachers, what are we doing?"

Division of academics and extracurricular activities

Academics have to come first, Copeland said. He said that athletics do have value in the development of young people, but that only in rare cases do athletics put food on the table.

Copeland said that fortunately there is a system in place which helps students prioritize academics even while being involved in athletics.

"If you don't make the grade, you don't play."

Storms said that the school's primary job is to teach students, however athletics are important as well and may even facilitate learning for students who may otherwise drop out.

"We have about 10 to 15 kids every year who, if not for sports, would not have stayed in school."

He added that most of the funding for athletics comes directly out of funds that the athletic department raises.

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