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Owasso Superintendent discusses 5-year strategic plan, safety and staffing | #schoolsaftey

OWASSO, Okla. — Owasso school students are dusting off their chrome books and picking out their first day outfits as the Rams put the school year into gear Thursday.

Superintendent Dr. Margaret Coates said she is excited for this year especially with some new programs and new security measures.

Owasso Public Schools has 15 instructional sites and close to 10,000 students. It’s the 5th largest school district in Northeast Oklahoma.

To manage such a large district, Superintendent Coates explained district leaders, along with some outside help, spent last year developing a 5-year strategic plan.

“We felt like we needed a plan in place to give us a road map for the future so that our students can thrive and reach their highest potential,” she said.

That new plan will be implemented this school year.

Dr. Coates said it focuses on four goal areas: Ram achievement and enrichment opportunities, Ram team, Ram resources, and Ram community culture.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us but looking forward to getting that going,” she said.

Something the superintendent is particularly thrilled about launching this year is their SPARK supplemental care program. It’s part of their strategic plan.

It will be located at all their elementary schools. SPARK will help parents by providing before and after school care.

“It’s a need that our community has expressed that wanted this and so we are responding to that and getting that going,” Dr. Coates said.

SPARK will run at all elementary sites from 7 in the morning until school starts and then again in the afternoon when school gets out until 6 at night. Pre-K students can choose either before or after care.

After school only care will also be available at the 6th Grade Center for grades 6th, 7th, and 8th.

“We have a lot of families of parents that work in Tulsa. They have to be there by 8 o’clock… the elementary sites, school doesn’t start until nine,” she explained. “So there is a need to have that little time before school starts for kids to be able to be supervised.”

In addition to implementing changes with the strategic plan, Superintendent Dr. Coates said they are also pleased to up their district security force as it’s been a goal of their to continually improve safety.

Owasso Police Department already provides three school resource officers.

On top of that, this year there will be five brand new armed campus security officers employed by the school district.

“So we’ll have eight for the district. So all of our secondary sites will have a dedicated security personnel employee at their site and then we will have our SRO’s rotating at our elementary’s,” she said.

The superintendent hopes this will alleviate any worries families have sending their kids to school.

“I know that every time there’s something that happens in the news at a school site that kid of ramps up that worry so we are trying to be proactive and just help parents know that we are going to keep their kids as safe as we possibly can,” Coates said.

As for staffing levels, they are basically fully staffed.

The exception lies within the special education department. Dr. Coates told 2 News Owasso still has three open positions for anyone wanting to work with students who need a little extra help in school.

That’s a department many districts are struggling to fill positions in.

“The pool is very, very shallow. In fact, it’s dry, it’s dusty when it comes to special ed teachers,” she said. “So, we are looking at some other options there hoping to maybe get some other teachers certified in that area or paras moved up to become certified teachers and hopefully get those positions filled.”

Coates feels something that could help statewide is offering some sort of incentive package both at the college level and career level.

One, to encourage more people to enroll in special ed programs in college and two, to encourage people to apply and keep the job with a 5% to 10% increase in salary.

Beyond that department, Dr. Coates said while they have the support staff they need to start the year, there is always a need for bus drivers and child nutrition positions which have a high turnover.

You can check open positions and apply by going to the Owasso school district websiteand if you want to learn more about the 5-year strategic plan and what each goal area entails, click here.

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