Tulsa Public Schools announced Monday night that Dr. Keith Ballard will stay on as superintendent until 2014.
"Pleased to extend the contract another year," said Ballard.
The district had been searching for a replacement for Ballard, after he announced he was leaving when his contract ended on June 30th, 2013. But now, that contract will be extended until June 30, 2014.
When Ballard was hired by the district in 2008 he said he would stay at TPS for three to five years.
Dr. Ballard says that he feels like he has unfinished business left to accomplish with the school district. He told FOX23 that he doesn't have any apprehension about extending his contract.
"A lot of this had to do with how the board went about this and also because I believe there is still a lot still to do," said Dr. Ballard.
Ballard said that the decline in state funding, wanting to aid in the transition to a continuous learning calendar and the TPS students, all played a factor in his decision.
"Student achievement is primarily what I am concerned about and our achievement results were not what I wanted to see," said Ballard.
The district sent out the following statement about Monday's announcement:
The TPS Board of Education, at the close of a special meeting held today at 5 p.m., announced they have approved a contract with Dr. Keith Ballard to stay an additional year as superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. Board President Gary Percefull said he and the board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Dr. Ballard to stay through the end of the 2013-14 school year. In May, Dr. Ballard had announced his intention to leave the district at the close of his current contract, which ends on June 30, 2013.
“On behalf of the TPS Board, I am pleased to announce that the board has approved a contract with Dr. Keith Ballard to stay through the end of the 2013-14 school year,” said Gary Percefull, board president. “During the course of the search process, we have interviewed a number of excellent prospects for superintendent – about 25 in all, some from in-state and others from outside Oklahoma. It is critical that we identify a candidate who buys into the board’s vision for Tulsa Public Schools and who is the best fit given a strategic plan that is already well underway. In some respects, we have been a victim of our own success. Other districts have successfully recruited away some of our top talent. Without a doubt, Dr. Ballard’s greatest strength is cultivating leaders. He has already proven that he is the best person for the job. By asking Dr. Ballard to stay, the board is committed to building a succession plan that will provide greater stability when we are ready to make a change. Until then, we are pleased that he has agreed to stay pending final approval of a contract.”
The terms of the contract did not change substantially. There was no increase in salary.
“A lot of work remains to be done, and I am not ready to go just yet,” said Dr. Keith Ballard. “We have made significant changes over the last couple of years that have set the stage for transformation. With the closure of 14 schools under Project Schoolhouse, we restored elective classes and equity throughout the district. We also recreated Will Rogers High School as an early college high and improved the performance of sixth-grade students by moving them back into elementary schools. Our Teacher & Leader Effectiveness initiative is enabling us to put an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective leader in every building. Our district’s teacher evaluation system, developed in collaboration with teachers, principals and the TPS board, has been selected by 500 school districts in Oklahoma. We also had a major success with the Teach For America Summer Institute; more than 3,500 students attained 75 percent of their achievement goals over the summer. Without a doubt, Tulsa Public Schools is poised for increases in student achievement.
“At the same time, TPS is faced with ongoing challenges. We are at a crossroads with the decline of state funding of public education. It is not acceptable that Oklahoma is ranked #3 among states with the largest decline in state funding of public education in the last three years. At the same time, we are not happy with student test scores, and reading is not at acceptable levels. We have a strong plan in place and I am optimistic we can fix these problems. Given all of these issues – and the strong promise of the transformative work we are doing in the district – it would be a mistake for me to leave now. The TPS board and I feel strongly that we are en route to making a major breakthrough in student achievement.
“Of all the jobs I’ve had, serving as superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools has been my favorite. I look forward to continuing to serve the terrific students and staff of TPS.”