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Teachers fill every classroom in Owasso

Posted at 9:02 AM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 10:02:12-04

OWASSO — Nearly 10,000 students are heading back to school today in Owasso.

But with so many students, district officials say every classroom will have a teacher going into the new year.

Something many other districts, like Tulsa, aren't lucky enough to say.

I sat down with the superintendent to find out how she keeps a full staff.

"Who's teaching my child calculus? Who's teaching my child third grade? Who's teaching my child in the band program? Those questions are very personal, so it's my responsibility along with our team of principals when they hire teachers to make sure there is a high quality teacher in every classroom."

Owasso Superintendent Dr. Amy Fichtner says district officials began working in the spring to make sure there was a teacher in every classroom.

"Our teacher pay has always been slightly above the schools around U.S. I credit administrators long before me who saw that vision and knew that it was so important to make that a solid investment. It's hard to play catch-up, so if you do it on a long-term sustainable basis, then you have that package to offer teachers," Dr. Fichtner says.

But with a teacher in every classroom some students may be seeing a different teacher then who they might have had after a re-districting process that began in the summer of 2018, with a series of parent meetings at every school.

Dr. Fichtner says, "They spent an enormous amount of time, evening after evening after evening, studying district maps. So, from October until about March, that process was done so that, by Spring Break, we could notify parents about where they would be going for this school year."

But a new school comes with anxiety for students and also parents wondering if their child will get the same resources at a new school.

Like the opening of the district's ninth Elementary School, Morrow Elementary, where 1,700 children will be moving to this year.

"What we did two years before the re-districting was do what I call an audit of our instructional programming to make sure that we could look at a parent and say, 'If your child is receiving gifted services in this school, they're in this school'...'If your child has a set of chromebooks in their fourth grade class at this school, they have it in this school,'" Dr. Fichtner says.

So, no matter what physical building the students are in, the superintendent says they will still get the same quality education across the board.

"If we ever forget about the individual student, it's probably time to hang up the cleats. So, the focus on the student will never get tiresome for me."
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