The Durant Independent School District invited parents and community leaders Tuesday evening to a special town hall meeting to discuss current projects and issues affecting the schools.
The meeting was held at the new Durant High School commons area. Before discussion began, all those present were able to sample food from the schools’ menus provided by Sodexo.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth began with an overview of projects that have been funded by recent bond funds passed in Durant.
These included furniture at various school locations, security upgrades, repairs, renovations and new amenities for Durant Schools.
“Learning and safety are what we are all about,” said Simeroth. He said that aesthetics, comfort and size of school building, all contribute to the learning experience for children.
He also discussed ongoing and future projects that bond money will fund for the schools, including plumbing repairs and floor repairs in various Durant schools.
Bond money will also be used to create a new indoor multi-purpose facility for Durant schools. An artist rendering of the future site was shown to the crowd.
Simeroth also addressed issues concerning schools such as Common Core curriculum and standardized testing and school grading.
As he talked about such subjects, Simeroth gave the crowd an idea of population of Durant schools. He revealed the number of students in each school as of Tuesday.
There are 894 students in the high school, 471 in the middle school and 745 in the intermediate school. Robert E. Lee Elementary has 181 students. Washington Irving has 642 students and Northwest Heights has 627 students.
The meeting featured guest speaker Melissa Abdo (USSA, Tulsa PLAC) who touched on the issues of Common Core curriculum and what parents can do to have an effect on student’s learning experiences.
Abdo said that parents who have the means can go to the state with issues.
“There is absolutely no reason for them [senators] not to listen to you” said Abdo.
She reminded parents that those at the capitol are employees of the community. She also addressed the bond issues in Oklahoma.
She said schools are forced to rely on bonds to take care of the schools but it is then made more difficult because bonds have to have a 60 percent supermajority vote to be passed.
She also said that the state testing system is a “bad investment” of the people’s money saying that this is something that the people are not seeing a return of their investment on.
Abdo and Simeroth then took questions from the audience addressing concerns of local citizens on these issues.