TULSA, Okla. — Students at Union Public Schools return to the classroom Wednesday.
2 News Oklahoma’s Amanda Slee sat down with Union’s superintendent to learn more about what’s new this year, if they are fully staffed, and what parents need to know about school safety and security.
“It’s always exciting as we get ready to welcome back our students and our families," said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. "We are looking forward to having a great school year.”
With 19 school sites in the Union school district, staffing shortages are top of mind for Superintendent Hartzler. He says the shortage is unlike anything he’s ever seen in his more than 30-year career.
However, Hartzler says the district is in good shape thanks to emergency teaching certificates.
“We’ve had to apply for around 65 emergency certifications which means that you have teachers who are teaching outside of their field of expertise or areas of certification and that’s concerning,” said Dr. Hartzler.
He says this is an increase from the 40 emergency certifications granted last year.
When it comes to safety and security, he said, “I feel very good about our security team that we have in our district and the things that we have done.”
Dr. Hartzler says their security team spent the summer re-evaluating school safety.
But says it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the schools safe and secure. That’s why they are passing out flyers to families to remind them.
“If you really think about it, it is making sure that we are not propping doors open. I mean if you think about some of the things that have happened throughout the nation by way of these tragic and terrible school events and shootings that have occurred is that these perpetrators have had access to the schools," he said. "So when I say safety and security is everyone’s responsibility that means no one should be propping doors open. No one should be letting someone from the outside come into the school without that individual going through our main office areas.”
He says people need to speak up if they hear anything that concerns them, no matter how small.
They are also implementing the Rave Panic Button app as part of Governor Kevin Stitt’s executive order. Hartzler says implementing this app has been quite the undertaking but he’s confident they’ll meet the September 1st deadline.
They also expect to meet the deadline for unveiling their newly remodeled high school stadium which has been five years in the making.
“It’s was not designed simply for football or for band. It was designed when we built this to think about movie nights, concerts, church events, community events could be hosted there and so it really is a multi-use facility,” Hartzler said.
The district will hold a grand opening on August 26th to show off the state-of-the-art facility.
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