OPS Board taps interim superintendent, approves new deal with teachers

Deputy Superintendent Matthew Ray will move into the interim role in July if approved.
A surprise came out of the OPS board meeting tonight -- an interim superintendent.
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:13 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With icy roads a major concern, the OPS board shortened tonight’s meeting.

They added a surprise before adjourning -- their choice of Deputy Superintendent Matthew Ray as interim superintendent for the outgoing Dr. Cheryl Logan.

“We know this is a critical time for Omaha Public Schools, and work cannot be paused for a transition,” said Ricky Smith, the board’s vice president. “We must keep moving forward for the success of our students and staff, and we have a long-time leader in Deputy Superintendent Matthew Ray. The accountability committee recommends the board offer Mr. Ray the interim superintendent’s position and enter contract negotiations with him.”

If formally approved next month, he’ll begin in July, and could be a candidate for the permanent position once a nationwide search concludes early next year.

“Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be your interim superintendent for Omaha Public Schools,” Ray said. “OPS offers unmatched opportunities for all students. I’ve witnessed these opportunities throughout my career, and as a proud parent of three OPS graduates.”

“The word that I liked this evening was care,” said Dr. Logan. “You don’t get that in every leader, you don’t get that in every person you get an opportunity to work with, but his level of care for the students and staff of Omaha Public Schools is exemplary.”

There was other business tonight -- the board approved a new deal with teachers. In part, it includes increasing starting salaries over the next three years by a total of more than $7,000.

After the pandemic exposed difficulties facing a system already short on teachers, the Omaha Education Association president says the deal is a good start.

“We can really see where our shortcomings are and work to solve them from that perspective,” said Michelle Settlemyer, the OEA’s president. “Here’s where we’re deficient, and how can we work to improve that...the two things I outlined this evening, looking at the cares of our special education teachers and planning time for elementary teachers and early childhood teachers. There’s a lot that they do, and they don’t have the time they need to complete everything.”

A vote to approve an amended contract with Student Transportation of America, the district’s busing partner, was postponed to the next meeting. The board is expecting significant public comment on problems with bus services and didn’t want the weather to keep them from being heard.