At last week’s Sapulpa Public Schools Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent Johnny Bilby gave a report to the board on current student enrollment as of that day to illustrate the “growing trend of virtual learning.” Of the total 3,552 students enrolled in SPS, 33% are in elementary school, 42% attend grades 6th-12th, and a considerable 25% of all SPS students are on an all-virtual plan. Of that 25% (or 873 students) elementary school students account for 52% (450 students), middle school 14% (121), junior high 14% (125), and high school 20% (177).
Bilby explained that there is an ongoing trend around the state of traditional brick-and-mortar schools losing students to all-virtual schools. Other Creek County school districts are not faring any better than SPS. Bristow has lost roughly 95 students, Cleveland 80, and Oilton 30. Approximately 350 Creek County students have chosen to attend Epic Virtual Charter School instead of their home school. Recent numbers show that Epic has around 60,000 students in the state of Oklahoma. Creek County administrators and superintendents are “trying to find a way to retain students,” according to Bilby. “[Fortunately,] we are light years ahead of most districts…with virtual learning,” he says.
Superintendent Rob Armstrong announced seven donations SPS has recently received from various sources. Notably, the George F. Collins, Jr. Foundation has given around $55K of school supplies and materials to make up “Go Bags” or “Boomerang Bags” for K-5th grade students in the event that distance learning is mandated at some point. Kids will have their bag at school and will have the opportunity to fill it with supplies like crayons, markers, dice, and dry erase boards so they will have access to these items at home. The bags are also roomy enough to fit their Chromebooks.
The Superintendent said that regarding the overall COVID plan, the district has only made one major adjustment. He said, “plans elsewhere are changing all the time and we want to remain consistent.” He also applauded SPS parents, who “are doing a great job of keeping sick kids at home” and who have not objected to any of the new safety requirements. He confirmed that there are only a “handful” of positive cases in the district right now and that they are “spread out” among different classrooms and schools. The schools and administration will continue to reiterate the need for social distancing, masks, etc., but unfortunately, a lot of the confirmed cases are coming from students’ homes from the weekend breaks. Due to these uncontrollable variables, SPS is planning for the Orange Level 2 emergency phase to perform their due diligence in case that situation should arise.
The next monthly Board of Education meeting will be Monday, October 12th, at 6 p.m. at the Washington Administration Center at 511 East Lee.