Superintendent Preps For Final School Year and Challenges

As many third graders face being retained another year, Dr. Keith Ballard is entering his final year as Tulsa Public Schools' superintendent.

"I feel really good about Tulsa Public and I really feel we are on the right track," Ballard said.

On Wednesday, Ballard toured Disney Elementary School, one site for hundreds of third graders who are hoping their reading has improved.

"I do think retention is the answer for many of our students and we will retain if that's what we need to do," said Ballard.

The third grade read or fail test is one challenge in his six years as district leader. Financial hard times and the A-F grading system are others, Ballard said.

Marion Munchinski, is a summer reading teacher. She knows some of her summer third graders will still be held back. She supports Ballard and wonders about his replacement.

"He's been a tremendous leader and I hate to see him go," Munchinski said. "I wish he would stay with us, but I understand why needs to retire."

Ballard says he is giving some support to the board on the process of finding a replacement, but the selection is up to them.

"I believe my legacy will be that we set the district on the right track and that we don't need something new and shiny a new program," he said.

Third graders will test this week. If they fail that test, they can take another in August to determine if they should move on to the 4th grade.