STILLWATER BOARD OF EDUCATION RECEIVES RESULTS OF SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REVIEW – MANY COMMENDATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS - SUPPORT SERVICES NEED TO BE STRENGTHENED
Contact: Robert Buswell or Matt Hesser
June 14, 2005
|STILLWATER – The results of the school performance review were presented today at a special 4:00 P.M. meeting of Board of Education for Stillwater Public Schools. The review had been requested by the board and was completed by WCL Enterprises of Houston, TX with the Education Oversight Board's Office of Accountability serving as the contract coordinator. Stillwater's review cost just under $80,000 and the district paid twenty-five percent of that amount. If all recommendations are adopted by Stillwater there is an estimated net savings to the district of $1,409,585 over a five-year period.
"The Oklahoma School Performance Review Program has been operational for about two years," said Robert Buswell, Executive Director of the Office of Accountability. "Stillwater is the fifth district to receive a review and the second to request the procedure. Stillwater's board of education and administration were planning to develop a new strategic plan for the district and felt that having the results of a performance review in advance of that effort would be to their advantage," explained Buswell.
The review process began last November and the final report was presented tonight. The purpose of a performance review is to develop findings, commendations, and recommendations regarding (1) improving the educational environment and increasing student performance; (2) reducing or containing costs; and (3) improving the management process and streamlining operations.
"We came into the Stillwater review knowing that they were, overall, a very good district," indicated Bill Lenhart, Managing Principal of WCL Enterprises. "The district has great community support and student performance is high. The team was impressed with the district's early childhood program, professional development program, special education program, and career education program," said Lenhart. They have also done a lot with technology.
"Stillwater seems to have two primary challenges: first, they have directed so much attention toward providing superior educational opportunities to their students that they have allowed some of the support services like maintenance and transportation to fall behind. No one likes to put money into support services but it becomes a pay-me-now or pay-me-later type of situation," explained Lenhart. Second, with everyone on staff being so highly qualified for their position, sometimes professional independence takes over and individuals don't always pull as a team. Reminding staff of the chain-of-command, clarifying job roles and reporting responsibilities, and emphasizing the existence of an established and adopted program should be all that is needed," concluded Lenhart.
"I was very impressed with the team that the Office of Accountability assembled for our review," said Dr. Walter Swanson, Superintendent of Stillwater Public Schools. "The team was very professional and they conducted many interviews, focus groups, and forums. They got to know Stillwater schools pretty well in a very short period of time." Swanson continued, "I think the report is a profound document, they validated the things that we were doing well and offered recommendations for improvement in areas where we were lacking. If we can't take a little constructive criticism then we can't improve. Having professionals from outside of the district look things over was very beneficial. I think it's a great program and would suggest the process be considered by other superintendents."
"We work very hard to screen the consultants prior to signing a contract, indicated Robert Buswell. "The team that is selected must have credibility with the board, administration, and staff of the district that is being reviewed. I think this goal was accomplished in the case of Stillwater Public Schools and I appreciate and respect Stillwater's board of education for working so hard to secure top quality education for their students and for requesting the review," Buswell said.
The Office of Accountability is governed by the Education Oversight Board with Tulsa businessman Don McCorkell currently serving as chairman. Under the Oklahoma School Performance Review Program, a review covers the entire spectrum of school district operations:
- District Organization and Management
- Educational Service Delivery and Performance Measures
- Personnel Management
- Community Involvement
- Facilities and Energy Management
- Asset and Risk Management
- Budgeting and Financial Management
- Management Information Services and Educational Technology
- Purchasing and Warehouse Services
- Food Service
- Safety and Security
A district receiving a review is under no obligation to implement the recommendations found in the review and the recommendations that a district does choose to implement may be done at the district's own pace and to their own specifications. After final presentation every review is placed on-line at the Office of Accountability's web site so other districts in the state may benefit form both the commendations and the recommendations.
For more information on the Oklahoma School Performance Review Program please visit www.SchoolReportCard.org or call the Office of Accountability at 405-225-9470.