Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 12, 2014

Projects ongoing at several TPS sites this summer

TAHLEQUAH — The corridors of Tahlequah Public Schools may not be full of students, but many projects are taking place throughout the summer.

“We are preparing for the cafeteria construction at Cherokee Elementary School,” said Superintendent Lisa Presley.

Tahlequah Middle School is getting new tile in the cafeteria, and the second phase of carpet removal from classrooms is also underway.

“This is the second summer of the carpet project,” said Presley. “The goal is next summer for the process to be complete.”

Tahlequah High School has a detached building in need of remodeling, said Presley. The building houses health classes and driver education. Presley said it is being gutted, the wiring is being redone, and it is getting new ceiling tiles, along with new floors, new sheet rock and paint.

“It will be so much nicer,” she said.

The old cafeteria at THS is being divided for meeting rooms and a classroom/lab. Presley said one part of the space will be remodeled into a large meeting room and the other part into a family and consumer science class, lab and a café.

The two-story white building at Sequoyah Pre-K School will be removed and two new classrooms will be added, an increase to 11.

“Cherokee Nation provides a class kit and other furniture to help with additional space,” said Presley. “Cherokee Nation and Sequoyah have a collaboration agreement.”

This pact helps with some of the supplies and materials the school needs, and also supports the teaching staff, said Presley.

A final project is the dumpsite by TMS. Presley said work has already begun and should be finished with 10 days.

Even with all the projects taking place, TPS is still providing summer school, with more than 200 students attending. The school day runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, through June 27.

All students eat breakfast and lunch at Greenwood Elementary School. Students in kindergarten through third grade remain at Greenwood. Students in sixth through eighth grade and special needs students are housed at TMS.

Presley said THS is offering credit recovery classes, end-of-instruction and driver’s education classes.

Filling vacancies is a major process in the summer, said Presley. There are vacancies for 10-15 certified teachers, athletic director, head baseball coach and several noncertified staff. All positions are posted, and principals usually take care of the interviews for certified staff. Presley said research on candidates is conducted before interviews, and then recommendations are sent to DeeAnn Mashburn, human resources and secondary curriculum director.

“She does more research and a short background check,” said Presley. “The major background check is done after a candidate is hired.”

Presley is given a list of potential hires, which she presents to the board.

“This is very time-consuming, and we feel urgent about it,” said Presley. “We want to get the good candidates hired and principals want to get their people in place before school begins. It is hard when someone quits in July; then the scrambling begins.”

Presley said the shortage of teachers is a concern.

“The pool of candidates dismisses quickly,” she said. “We do not have the number of candidates we used to have. Teachers are coming and going.”

Presley said teachers look for signing bonuses, or they are moving to places where the pay is better.

“We do not see the commitment to teaching like we used to,” said Presley. “People are not committed to the community, the institution or profession like some of us seasoned people.”

Summer is a time to reflect on the previous year, said Presley.

“We are looking at next year and thinking, ‘What can we improve or what can we make more purposeful?’” she said.

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