More than 8,900 students are attending school in Yukon this year.
That was the number that Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth provided Thursday to members of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce during his annual state of the school presentation.
Simeroth gave insights into how the district has grown since 2015, when he moved from Durant in southern Oklahoma to Yukon.
Since the 2015-16 school year, the district has added 29 elementary school teachers, 15 secondary teachers, 10 special education teachers and a college and career specialist.
He also said the district now has six LPNs, 2 physical therapists and four counselors on staff.
The starting salary in 2015 for a first-year teacher, Simeroth said, was $31,525. Today, it is $38,500.
In addition, the district has added stipends for teachers.
“Whenever I arrived, when compared to Deer Creek and Mustang, Edmond, Putnam City, maybe Piedmont, we looked at our average teacher’s salaries and our starting teacher’s salary. We weren’t where we should have been. People would come here and stay because they loved the district and they love the town. It was a culture thing, but you know what, culture things don’t buy you groceries,” he said.
Simeroth said he promised the teachers’ union that they district would improve the salaries of its employees, and has.
“Last year, before the legislation was passed, we were second among that group. We had increased our offerings to our kids, we increased our salaries to our teachers and then we got the big bump last year,” he said.
The result was an increase in salaries of $7,000 more than it was in 2015-16.
“That’s pretty phenomenal. It’s huge. They (teachers) are always under-appreciated, but if we can do something monetarily, then we’re going to try and do it,” Simeroth said.
In discussing a $43 million bond issue that was approved by voters last September, Simeroth said the money has enabled the district to purchase new math curriculum.
“We spent $1,205,000 on text for our kids,” he said.
Some of that was spent on textbooks, some was for electronic textbooks.
The school also purchased new books for younger students to work with, added a three –year professional development plan, added pre-k through 12th grade STEM programming and has developed a program called Lead the Way.
“We literally have these little four-year-old babies working on things in science technology and engineering. It is so cool to watch them,” he said.
And Simeroth said the teachers are supportive of the programs.
“We are really, really excited to see that,” he said.
In 2017-18, the district added a new transportation director, 10 new route buses and a new activities bus.
It also added four school Chevrolet Suburbans, two trucks for the agriculture department and expanded the district’s training program for bus drivers.
“It is a brand new attitude. It is a customer-friendly attitude,” he said.
Who we are?
The district is a team, Simeroth said.
He said the employees work together, are supportive and have each other’s backs.
He also said the district is a family.
“We protect each other, we love each other, we look out for each other,” he said.
The district is the largest employer in Yukon.
The schools revolve around the community, but I also think the community revolves around the schools. … It is a community and we are part of that,” Simeroth said.
“Why do we do what we do,” Simeroth asked before showing a slide of a young girl, who was struggling with math.
“She battled through this assessment. She couldn’t get it. This is her getting it,” Simeroth said.
In the slide the girl was lifting a trophy filled with pencils and paper, celebrating her accomplishments.
“It’s not just her,” Simeroth said as he got emotional. “There are a lot of them. … That’s why we do what we do folks. That little girl. That’s why we do what we do, and that’s why you support what we do. And we thank you for that.”
Yukon advances in five years
- 7,054 Chrome Devices (Chromebooks and Chromeboxes) in use across the District
- 640 Dell PCs in use (both teacher and student computers in labs)
- 800 MacBooks used by teachers and staff
- 1,550 iPads in use across the district primarily in our elementary schools
- 4 Gbps Bandwidth (Internet Connectivity)
- 10 Gbps WAN (Fiber Connectivity) (approximately 30 miles of private fiber lines)
- $500,000 in educational software resources for students
- Currently starting wireless network refresh
- 1:1 in Grades 6-12 (1 device to 1 student)
- Approximately 1:2 in grades PreK – 5 (1 device to every 2 students)