By CHRIS EVERSOLE
Yukon Public Schools are coping well with growth, thanks to additional state funding and a bond issue that voters approved two years ago.
Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth delivered that message Thursday at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce luncheon, held at 10 West Main Events.
“It’s a phenomenal thing that Oklahoma has done and that Yukon has done,” he said.
• Increasing base teacher pay 35%, to $41,700, since 2015
• Adding seven classrooms to Surrey Hills Elementary School
• Buying 27 new school buses and three activity buses
• Purchasing 8,000 Chromebooks and other electronic devices
• Constructing Redstone Intermediate School, which will be open for the next school year
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the bond issue,” Simeroth said.
“You guys have been great. It’s such a blessing.”
Staff members – from janitors to himself – and community members helped plan the new construction.
“We are very much a collaborative district,” Simeroth said.
The superintendent is planning for the future, and he expects to propose a new bond issue in several years.
He envisions that a “university center” on the high school campus will be part of the bond-issue package.
“I have a dream of creating a place that will look like a professional environment for preparing students for college and careers,” Simeroth said.
The university center would relieve pressure on the high school as enrollment grows, he said.
The schools already help students prepare for their future, he said.
It lets them know about career opportunities in various fields, such as ones in welding, dentistry and aerospace.
“We want kids to know they have a future,” Simeroth said.
Yukon teachers and staff work hard to help students develop coping skills.
The Positive Behavior Intervention Support program emphasizes empathy, resilience and communication.
Schools today are finding new ways to help troubled students, Simeroth said.
“You can’t kick kids out of school anymore,” he said.
“It doesn’t serve them well.”
He recalled being in a classroom in which a student was sleeping.
“The teacher said, ‘right now, he needs sleep,’” Simeroth said.
“Who knows what he went through the night before.”