Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

Oklahoma City Schools have ridden a roller coaster of ups and downs for the past decade. The district was labeled as “in need of improvement” under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). That federal mandate led to major overhauls which included a district improvement plan, a comprehensive local education plan (CLEP) and numerous initiatives by then superintendent Bob Moore. The changes have seen marked improvements.
Following Moore’s resignation, interim superintendent Linda S. Brown and the Oklahoma City Schools’ Board instituted four major tools to help meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the NCLB act. These tools are: district restructuring, the Instructional Facilitator Program, the Organizational Health Inventory, and the High Performance Model. The major concern of Oklahoma City Schools during the previous academic year was finding someone capable of continuing the upward progress of these initiatives.
That search came to an end in April when Oklahoma City Schools announced the selection of John Q. Porter as the next Superintendent of Schools. Porter is currently Deputy Superintendent of the highly ranked Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Rockville, Maryland. Porter is nationally recognized for his work in improving both accountability and academics in the MCPS. He also has had success in integrating technology with student learning. This is one of the reasons that Oklahoma City Schools think he might be the right man for the job.
Oklahoma City Schools have received acclaim for its MAPS (Metropolitan Area Public Schools) for kids program. MAPS for kids is an “historic bond initiative” created in 2001 that has earmarked $512 million for new or renovated school buildings for all Oklahoma City Schools. Other funds in the initiative include $52 million for computer and technological resources for Oklahoma City Schools. The plan draws on sales tax increases over the coming years, as well as bond funds to feed the aggressive changes. Board members and administrators in the Oklahoma City Schools believe that Porter, coming from a district that manages an operating budget of $1.85 billion fairly successfully, will be able to use district funding to institute the needed AYP improvements.
The nearly year long search for the new Oklahoma City Schools Superintendent seems to have board members breathing a sigh of relief. Oklahoma City Schools have gone over 10 months without a permanent leader in the superintendent’s position. Chairman of the Oklahoma City Schools Board, Cliff Hudson said, “While it has taken us some time to find a new leader, I can say it was worth the wait because we have found an exceptional person to lead the Oklahoma City Public Schools District.”
While politics dictate that this sunny outlook will face challenges during the actual interactions over the next school year, the fact that Porter is positively embraced by most of the Oklahoma City Schools administrators is encouraging. Hudson implied that the community investment made by MAPS for kids was partly responsible for the high quality of applicants who applied for the superintendent’s position. Porter will officially assume the title of Oklahoma City Schools newest superintendent on July 1st.