Superintendent Ballard still has 'unfinished business'
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
11/07/12 at 4:53 AM
Saying that he has some "unfinished business," Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard will stay at his post at least through June 2014.
That ought to make every student, parent, administrator and teacher pretty happy. Ballard has been a champion for not only TPS but public schools across the state. He has guided Tulsa schools through a difficult time, but realizes that there is much more to accomplish.
The Tulsa School Board voted unanimously Monday to approve a one-year contract renewal. Ballard had planned to leave at the end of June. When he accepted the job in September of 2008, he said then that he wanted to stay only three or four years.
He was the perfect solution to what had been a tumultuous time under then-Superintendent Michael Zolkoski. After a great deal of controversy, the board bought Zolkoski out for $400,000 with two years remaining on his contract. Ballard immediately provided desperately needed leadership for the school system.
During his tenure, Ballard oversaw the overhaul of the district's alternative-education system and was influential in the passage of the largest bond issue in the history of the state.
In 2010, he faced the need for the district to close and consolidate some schools - Project Schoolhouse. What many expected to be a knock-down-drag-out fight was surprisingly calm, thanks mostly to Ballard, who listened to parents, modified plans and in the end gained the trust and support of parents in the affected areas. Over the course of two years, Ballard oversaw the closing of about 15 schools and the realignment of grade levels at most others.
What looked to be Ballard's final fight came as state funding continued to fall and state Superintendent Janet Barresi instituted an arbitrary grading system for public schools. He led the charge to make changes in the grading system.
In the end, Barresi ignored the pleas of more than 300 superintendents and went ahead with her plan.
Now, Ballard looks to his "unfinished business." We don't expect him to shy away from any battle.
If we had our druthers, we'd keep him for longer than one or two more years. He's been one of Tulsa's best school superintendents and remains a champion for public schools.
Original Print Headline: He stays