OKC superintendent sets lofty goals

Wednesday, July 16th 2008, 7:59 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- New Oklahoma City superintendent Karl Springer is setting many goals for the state's second largest school district, despite its recent rocky history.

Springer attended his final Mustang school board meeting Monday night, and then went straight to work at his new job, the job of, not just stabilizing the Oklahoma City school district, but elevating it to excellence.

"Oklahoma City has the opportunity to be the premier urban school district in the United States," Springer said.

Springer is an optimist; perhaps what the district needs in the wake of the upheaval caused earlier this year by the very public, and sometimes ugly, clash between then-superintendent John Porter and the school board, culminating with the resignations of Porter and Board Chairman Cliff Hudson.

"That was terrible, for everybody, there were no winners in that situation, but my way of leading is my driving the car and looking out the front window there," Springer said.

Introduced last week as Porter's replacement, Springer said his responsibility is not to look back, but to look at improving the educational outcomes for 36,000 students.

"And the kind of outcomes we're talking about for such a large group of students can actually - will change the world," Springer said.

For all his lofty goals, Springer understands the district first has to meet far more basic goals, like getting more third grade students reading at grade level.

"That's so important, we know that, by the third grade if you haven't learned to read, there's a 50 percent chance you won't graduate from high school," Springer said.

Springer said he will be a leader, not a manager, reaching out to the community, and to teachers, asking them what he can do to help make them more effective.

"That's the kind of thing I'm going to be doing and I'm going to be listening to what those people have to say, and the strongest thing a leader can do is once they've told you what needs to happen, you do it, and I will be," Springer said.

Springer started his career in education as a teacher in Muskogee in 1977. He also worked in Norman, was a deputy superintendent in Chickasha, and, most recently, superintendent of the Mustang school district.