The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 5, 2013

NOC Enid to be site of new Enid schools 4-year-old program

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A new 4-year-old program, to be located at Northern Oklahoma College Enid, is in the works for Enid Public Schools, and considering recent growth in elementary school enrollment, the program will be needed.

EPS Board of Education members approved a contract with Northern Oklahoma College to house two 4-year-old classes on the NOC Enid campus, during the business portion of a meeting devoted mostly to planning for the 2013-14 school year.

Superintendent Shawn Hime showed board members enrollment numbers since spring 2009. Since that time, the district has 793 additional elementary students, 56 additional middle school students and 186 additional high school students.

Considering the construction of the new Prairie View Elementary School and Garfield Elementary School — larger than the Garfield it replaced — the district’s elementary schools have a capacity for 4,600 students. Enrollment at the elementary schools was 4,342 during the spring 2013 semester, Hime said.

Hime attributed the elementary school growth to Enid’s low unemployment rate and a resulting influx of families moving to Enid. If elementary growth continues, 4-year-old programs will be crowded out of the district’s elementary schools in order to have room for all the kindergarten through fifth-grade students, Hime said.

He reminded the board that the idea of a central early elementary center has been discussed in the past.

High school enrollment was 1,762 in the spring semester. The capacity of the Enid High School building was 1,750 before University Center’s additional classrooms, Hime said.

University Center, which will open for the fall semester, may itself trigger enrollment growth, he said.

“Both Amber (Fitzgerald) and I have received emails from parents who are interested in the high school because of the University Center,” Hime said.

Hime also said EPS has been awarded a grant from the National Math and Science Institute to assist with advanced placement classes. A source for matching funds is being sought because Boeing Corp. decided to only fund such initiatives in the Oklahoma City area, Hime said.

“We are working behind the scenes to find a partner,” Hime said.

Fitzgerald, human resources director for the district, talked with board members about teacher recruitment.

Oklahoma has a statewide teacher shortage, particularly in the areas of special education, math, science and foreign languages. EPS has hired some teachers this year who came through a “boot camp” path to get their certificates.

“We have hired 70 new teachers,” Fitzgerald said. “We have five vacancies — two special ed, art, math and elementary.”

During the business portion of Monday evening’s meeting, board members approved a number of routine transfers within school activity funds; gave the nod to a contract with LifeTouch Publications for the 2014 Enid High School yearbook; and appropriated Municipal Tax Levy Fund, 2003 General Purpose Bond Fund, 2010 General Purpose Bond Fund, 2010 General Obligation Revenue Lease Payment Bond Fund and Endowment Fund.

Board members approved a change to the contract with Lowry Hemphill Construction for renovations to Longfellow Middle School. The changes, which will increase the cost of the contract $33,708 and reduce the hidden conditions allowance by $46,578, are for numerous hidden items discovered during ongoing renovation.

Board members also approved contracts and memorandums of understanding related to Project SEARCH, a program that teaches job skills to special education students at the high school.