OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The OPS Board of Education is prepared to approve a contract extension for Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan following a successful first year.
Board President Marque Snow said the board has been impressed with the Superintendent’s ability to gain significant positive momentum for the school district this past school year from building a positive and collaborative working relationship with the board to creating relationships with students and families around the Omaha community. Logan also regularly meets with state senators to discuss matters pertinent to the school district and has established a steady cadence of visibility at the unicameral.
“As a body, we’re pleased to have attracted her caliber of talent to Omaha,” said Snow. “In addition to experience and expertise, she’s brought energy, positivity and an injection of fresh perspective.”
Last fall, the Board set six goals upon which to evaluate the Superintendent’s performance during her first school year. Those goals included (1) establishing a collaborative, positive and productive working relationship with the Board and ensuring a collaborative governance team with a common, united purpose (2) establishing trust and confidence through open and honest communication and positive relationships among stakeholder groups (3) reviewing and studying district-wide fiscal and overall organizational health (4) reviewing and studying current instructional practices/initiatives, curricular and student services programs and student performance within the district (5) reducing the percentage of students missing nine days or more of school year; and (6) increasing the level of mathematic learning of all students to ensure they are college and career ready upon graduation from high school.
Instructional Practices and Math Focus
School principals, instructional facilitators and teachers have all received an increased amount of professional development related to enhancing the district’s mathematical mindset culture. Other best instructional practices in mathematics efforts this year have included increased coaching to help teachers hone efforts in the classroom that expose students to daily cumulative review of mathematics, multiple representations of ways to solve math problems and multiple methods for solving problems and building literacy/language-rich math classrooms.
For the past five years, the district has experienced a 4% regression for chronic absenteeism across the district, said Snow. Since the start of the school year, the district has steadily encouraged students to miss no more than nine days of school. The interventions implemented this year made attendance top-of-mind for students, schools and parents and have redirected the trend line, Snow said.
“Dr. Logan led the creation of awareness around why on-time attendance to school every day matters, and how closely that attendance relationship correlates with graduation rates and academic achievement. As a result, we’ve watched that regression line stabilize this past school year and, generally speaking, OPS students missed less school this school year than they have over the past five years,” Snow said.
On May 31, the district held its first Safety Summit, which included opening remarks from Mayor Jean Stothert and participation by representatives from the Omaha Police Department, and Dr. Jolene Palmer, the State School Security Director for the Nebraska Department of Education.
More than 550 administrators across the district, including principals, school leadership teams, central office staff members and administrators from across the district attended. Attendees learned more about steps the district has taken to improve safety and threat assessment readiness, including district-wide training to ensure OPS schools are using Standard Response Protocol, a common response approach used by the Nebraska Department of Education for responding to incidents. Attendees also practiced real-world safety scenarios and discussed potential response options in small groups.
In January, all district employees also received Mandatory Reporting training to ensure a common understanding of all employees’ obligation to report child abuse and neglect.
District-Wide Financial Health
In October, Dr. Logan formed a group of OPS stakeholders, the Better Together Coalition, to work with legislators to consider potential options for stabilizing pension payments and closing the pension shortfall. The group has created a channel for collective input amongst stakeholders around education-related issues of interest to the OPS. The legislature recently approved a study that would consider the impact of transferring the management of the pension fund to the state of Nebraska. The Better Together Coalition continues to explore potential options for ensuring the solvency of the pension fund long-term.
New Strategic Plan
Work has already started on developing a new strategic plan for the district. While the board drives the strategic planning process, the Superintendent is integral in the identification of preliminary goals and gathering input from stakeholders around the community, said Snow. Current proposed goals include (1) meeting post-secondary expectations (2) building a grow-your-own highly-qualified and effective staff program (3) recruiting and retaining top talent; and (4) demonstrating financial sustainability for the school district that includes goals tied to student outcomes.
Material Changes to Superintendent’s contract are as follows:
- Contract renewal term extends to June 2022 (previously June 2021)
- Base salary remains unchanged
- District’s contribution to the Superintendent’s tax-sheltered annuity will increase approximately 1.8% of base salary for 2019-2020; an additional contribution to tax-sheltered annuity of approximately 3.18% of base salary will be added for 2020-2021*).
*These percentages mirror the total compensation increase tentatively negotiated with OPS teachers.
- An additional five days of vacation time
“It’s been a successful, productive year for OPS,” said Snow. “Dr. Logan often shares how much she loves the Omaha community. We are certainly happy to have her here and we look forward to what lies ahead for our school district under her leadership.”
The board will vote on the contact at the June 17 Board of Education meeting.