District News

Superintendent's Updates

  • January 27, 2023

    Posted by Uwe Gordon on 1/27/2023

    SPS Staff and Families,

     

    It was the 100th day of school at many schools across the state this week. A great milestone to celebrate! Around the district students celebrated in so many ways – imagining themselves at age 100, completing 100 piece puzzles, crafting shirts and crowns with 100 items attached, and listing 100 ways to be kind, just to name a few! Just about 40% of the school year left. 

     

     

    Now Hiring Teachers

    Today, district staff started the spring college job fair season at OSU recruiting speech therapists. Throughout the coming months HR and admin staff will travel to universities looking for the next group of certified teachers to join the Pioneer Family. We’ve also begun accepting applications for 2023-2024 teachers. Tell your friends, whether they are new grads or experienced teachers to apply at www.stillwaterschools.com/jobs 

     

    Federal Programs
    Federal dollars make up around 8-9% of our budget during most years, and currently, thanks to ESSR funds, just under 20% this year. These funds help provide special education programs, child nutrition, support for homeless students, and more. We’re currently looking to hire a Director of Federal and OSU programs, as longtime SPS employee Dee Atkins plans to retire from the role this summer. This important and fun position is responsible for keeping our federal funds programs compliant and running smoothly, as well as working with OSU for student teacher placements, educational research requests, and other university based programs that are implemented in our schools. More info is also available at www.stillwaterschools.com/jobs 

     

    MVP

    SPEF’s Most Valuable Pioneer is underway. This contest/fundraiser is sponsored by Simmons Bank and raises money through MVP nominations from the community! Two MVP Winners will win a $250 Amazon Gift Card and will be announced on Wednesday, February 8. All donations are tax-deductible and benefit SPS Special Education Services. To learn more and nominate your Most Valuable Pioneer, go to https://www.spef.stillwaterschools.com/events/spef-mvp/

     

    Vote!

    If you haven’t heard yet, there’s an election on Feb 14. Depending on where you live you’ll find a variety of issues on the ballot – county taxes, city council, and the no-tax increase school bond issue. Please exercise your right to vote in these important elections. Find more information about the bond issue, including an eleven page document that outlines expenditures of the 2023, 2017, and 2011 bonds, at www.stillwaterschools.com/bond

     

    Of Note…

    • Congrats to SPS PR & Communications Coordinator Barry Fuxa on completing Leadership Stillwater! In addition to connecting with professionals around the district and learning the ins and outs of how our community functions, this year's class raised $16,187 for Lake McMurtry’s Ride to Thrive program for middle school students.


    • This was a big week of promotions for 3 SHS alumni serving in the Oklahoma National Guard. Congratulations to Brigadier General Colby Wyatt (Class of 1992), Colonel Adam Headrick (Class of 1991) and Lieutenant Colonel Caleb Emde (Class of 2000)! #PioneerProud!


    • You don’t need to cook on February 4 - Join Soccer for a pancake breakfast and Ag for dinner.  Find details and purchase tickets at www.stillwaterschools.com/fundraisers



    • Happy Senior Night to Wrestling!

    • Winter Guard’s competitive season starts this weekend. Good luck to the 40 members of Stillwater Gold, Blue, and Emerald as they head to their first contest of the season at PC West High School. I hope your season has less weather related travel challenges than last year!



    I love Stillwater,


    Uwe Gordon

    Superintendent

    Stillwater Public Schools

     

     

    BE READY.            Turn Off + Turn In + Show Up = Success

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  • January 22, 2023

    Posted by Uwe Gordon on 1/22/2023

    SPS Staff and Families,

     

    While the vast majority of my interactions about bond 2023 have been positive, there have been a few disappointments mentioned, questions about why certain things aren’t happening yet, and of course some who’d like to see different paths pursued. There are things I do wish we could do differently, and I’ll get into those later.

     

     A Long Range Vision for SHS and SPS

    There has been a little bit of confusion around some concept sketches seen last year of a possible configuration of the SHS campus being mistaken as a plan for the 2023 Bond, rather than an idea of what we might move toward. Below is an image of our latest campus concept for the long term arrangement of the SHS campus. I asked my resident graphics guru to intentionally blur it to remind everyone that this is a notion of where we’d like to go, not a finalized plan.

     

     

    As community priorities change, this campus concept will no doubt change with them. The current high school was built over a 50 year period, and I’m sure what we have today is not what the citizens of Stillwater envisioned in the 1950s. When SHS’s current location was proposed, the community felt that it was way too far out of town. Like them, we can’t predict the future of what Stillwater will be, but we feel that we have a good vision, and we’re confident that the projects in Bond 2023 will help lay the groundwork and flexibility for the continued evolution of the SHS campus and SPS operations. 



    My Bond 2023 gripes and wishes

    When I left my former position as SHS Principal, I told the high school staff that at some point in my new role, I’d have to make a decision that would disappoint, frustrate, or anger them, and I asked for their grace and understanding when that occurs. However, I didn’t fully realize the number of decisions I’d have to make in which I would have to disappoint, frustrate, or anger myself.

     

    The realities of budgets, inflation, interest rates, and our commitment to a no tax increase bond issue mean that while preparing Bond 2023, there have been some things on which we’ve had to compromise. Since I started as Superintendent, there have been four interest rate increases. Construction costs continue to rise. Each increase cuts into our purchasing power. None of our decisions about what to include or not include in this bond issue have been made lightly.

     

    Below are a few of the items we’ve had to make hard decisions around and that I truly wish could be realized now instead of in the future.

     

    • The Size of the New HS. 

      • I wish it could be bigger – more spaces for students to interact, lounge, and learn – and with more classrooms for future growth.

    • The Performing Arts Wing

      • The new SHS was originally planned to include 20,000 square feet of space for Band. I will long remember the excited face of a band dad who works in the admin building when he saw the concept floorplan… and the disappointment when he saw it had been removed as construction costs and interest rates climbed.

    • The Timeline for Relocation of Some Athletics

      • I want all our students involved in activities to have easier access to their facilities and to have those facilities be the best they can be. I want new Softball, Baseball, and Tennis facilities on our HS campus and wish finances could allow that to happen now instead of in the future..

    • The Performing Arts Wing

      • A few things I’d hoped to be able to include:

        • Tornado shelters, rated for maximum protection, at all sites

        • Upgrades or a new building for Lincoln Academy

        • Continued improvements to the Junior High

        • Updates to the interior and exterior of Virtual Academy

    • Teacher and Staff Salaries

      • Some have asked why we can’t pay teachers more with bond funds. Bonds can’t be used for that, but I do wish funding allocations from the state would allow all districts to increase teacher salaries.

     

    • Other Facility Improvements

      • I’m proud that the district puts funds into student facilities first and foremost, but most districts our size have higher quality administration buildings than we do. Our admin building was renovated last in 1971. The former Kicker building that houses Nutrition and Facilities has never received an update. IT is housed elsewhere. Aged structures, decentralized staff, and cramped spaces do not provide an ideal experience for staff, parents, or students.

    • All the other things

      • I wish we could tackle all of our needs more quickly, but I’m excited about the 1 to 1 technology initiative we’ll be able to achieve under bond 2023, the curriculum and equipment it will provide.

     

    With limited funds the decision to include something means the exclusion of something else. Despite all my “gripes” about what we can’t do with this bond, I’m excited about what we can do. Thank you to every student, parent, teacher, staff person, and community member that worked to provide feedback as Bond 2023 was developed. 

     

    Vote!
    Please exercise your right to vote on February 14. Sample ballots for this and other elections that day are now available on the Oklahoma Voter Portal: https://okvoterportal.okelections.us/Home/Index

     

    Of Note…

    • Congrats to Wrestling on their 2nd place COAC finish and District Dual Championship.

    • Avery Littlefield set an SHS record in the 100 meter breaststroke, knocking out a standing forom 2002!

    • Congrats to all of our All-State Musicians who performed this weekend in Tulsa.

    • Congrats to the SJHS Academic Team on a first place finish at their latest tournament.

     

    I love Stillwater,

     

    Uwe Gordon

    Superintendent

    Stillwater Public Schools

     

    BE READY.            Turn Off + Turn In + Show Up = Success

    Comments (-1)

PR & Communications Coordinator

  • Barry Fuxa

    Barry Fuxa
    [email protected]
    405-707-5025

    Barry is responsible for SPS's News, Website, Communications, and Brand Management.