14 Jul Deer Creek School District’s New Superintendent has High Hopes (OK)

July 14, 2010

By: Tricia Pemberton
Source: The Oklahoman

Deer Creek School District Superintendent Sean McDaniel has been on the job just more than a month, but he already hopes to take the district to new heights.

"This district already has very high standards … parents, kids, teachers and the school board all want to be the best,” he said. "I want to figure out in detail why this district is so successful and then figure out what the next level looks like and put an action plan in place to get there.”

McDaniel said the district already has a number of schools with perfect Academic Performance Index scores and educators who are being recognized nationally for their excellence in teaching.

"We would like to be compared to national powers, not just be one of the best schools in Oklahoma,” he said. "Maybe that’s that next level.

"I’m sure the longer I’m here, there are things I’ll find that we don’t d o well. But at the end of the day, we want to sit around and say with sincerity that we as adults have provided every possible opportunity for success for our kids. That’s education. That’s what we’re supposed to do, whether it’s in technology or tightening up our curriculum, or extracurricular activities or opportunities, or mentoring programs with partners in the Edmond area.”

McDaniel was hired by Deer Creek in January after serving two years as superintendent in Englewood, Colo. Before that he worked in Tulsa-area schools for 20 years. His annual salary is $127,000.

He closed on a house this week in his new district, and his wife and 11-year-old son have joined him. His 22-year-old daughter works in the Tulsa-Union School District.

He admits he was hired at a difficult time for state schools in light of recent state budget cuts to education.

"Thankfully we are a growing district, both in student population and property values,” he said. "But, that said, no one is immune to the repercussions of this economy.

"Can we maintain the low class sizes we’ve boasted about for years? Right now the answer is yes.”

But federal stimulus money is now gone and additional stabilization funding is going away next year, leading to what many educators are calling the 2012 funding cliff.

"Next year will get dicey for many districts. Unless we get significant help from legislators in the next two years, that cliff is going to hit people squarely in the eyes. But, I do have a lot of faith in our legislators. When it gets down to it, I’ve seen them come through.”

Deer Creek is in a better spot than some districts .

Voters last fall approved a $140 million bond issue that is funding construction of the district’s second middle school, a new operations facility and expansion at the high school. Additional construction projects will break ground this school year, McDaniel said.

"I know this is a cliche, but I’m just thrilled to be here,” he said. "This job is a dream come true.”

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