Bixby Public Schools superintendent talks about school safety, CRT, and construction

BIXBY, Okla. — With Tuesday marking the first day of classes in the district, FOX23 sat down with Bixby Public Schools superintendent Rob Miller for an in-depth Q&A about what’s in store for the district this year and for years to come.

One thing many people are asking is, how will Bixby Public Schools will address school safety this year?

“Really, that’s an area that every school administrator is constantly concerned about,” Miller told FOX23.

He says every Bixby school is heavily secured, with locked doors, secure single-entry points and school resource officers provided by Bixby police. But one thing new started this summer.

“Some intentional drills and walk throughs,” Miller said. “Our local police department have participated in several of those drills and walk throughs to familiarize themselves with the layout of the buildings.”

One thing that is on top of everyone’s mind, especially in Oklahoma right now, is critical race theory. FOX23 asked, does Bixby Public Schools teach it? And how does it go about navigating house bill 1775 which bans teaching it?

“Bixby Public Schools [does not], and I don’t know of another district in Oklahoma that teaches CRT,” Miller said.

He says while the district doesn’t teach Critical Race Theory to begin with, it is still putting an extra focus to making sure House Bill 1775 is followed.

“Certainly Bixby Public schools is going to adhere to any laws that the legislature passes,” he said.

He said the issue really comes down to how to interpret the law, telling FOX23 it has caused confusion and stress for teachers, not having it clearly defined what can and can’t be said.

A lot of school districts are having a hard time attracting new teachers, new bus drivers. FOX23 asked Miller what he wants to see done to get that changed.

“If it were up to just me, Rob Miller, I would raise the base pay for every teacher in Oklahoma to $50,000,” Miller said.

He says with inflation, and competitive pay in nearby states like Texas and Arkansas, the state legislature needs to act before the state finds itself back like it did in 2018.

“What I’d like to see from our state is a long term plan for the next five years that we can put in front of teachers saying, your state is invested in you,” he said.

FOX23 asked, how is the district dealing with all the growth with so many people moving to Bixby?

“We’ve gone from classes that used to be in the 400s district wide to now half of our classes are 600 plus,” Miller said.

He says the district has also outgrown its admin building in Downtown Bixby, and is currently in negotiations with the city to purchase and redevelop it. At that point he says the district’s offices will move to a new building at no extra cost to taxpayers.

Meanwhile, work began this summer on a long-awaited new building for the high school, the funds for which came out of the $110 million dollar bond package passed by voters earlier this year.

“The new high school will hold all the students probably through the mid-2030s,” Miller said.

With that new high school comes the opportunities for new programs — specifically ones that set students up to have all the certifications and trainings they need to start careers right out of school.

“To just funnel everybody toward a four year education sometimes just leads them to incurring a bunch of student loans and not a degree that they can actually use,” he said.