TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah Public Schools’ top administrator on Wednesday confirmed the district’s support staff and administrators will all receive step increases next year, except for Goodsell himself, and said recent teacher negotiations were conducted to meet a state deadline.

Superintendent Dr. Shannon Goodsell said the district negotiates with three unions: the Tahlequah Education Association, the Tahlequah Education Support Professionals Association for support staff, and the administrators’ group.

“State Superintendent Janet Barresi has given an executive order to all school districts. The state of Oklahoma has chosen three possible evaluation instruments for the upcoming school year,” said Goodsell. “(Barresi) has mandated that all school districts must notify her by April 16 of our choice for the upcoming school year. TPS does not have the right to arbitrarily pick any one of the three evaluation instruments by itself.”

The teacher-negotiated instrument for evaluation, Goodsell said, is within the TEA-negotiated contract. To select an evaluation instrument and meet Barresi’s deadline, TPS had to open negotiations with teachers.

“So the primary purpose for our (recent) negotiation was to select an evaluation tool for all teachers for next school year,” Goodsell said, referring to recent TEA negotiations.

During the process, a model of evaluating teachers was selected.

“(The) model was chosen because it was highly recommended by the Oklahoma Education Association and by TEA,” he said. “Also, as well, while we were there, the school district authorized or negotiated a pay raise for all teachers. Those dollars have already been factored into next year’s budget.”

Goodsell said during the talks with TEA, an extra-duty stipend was negotiated for all coaches and directors who drive buses for extracurricular activities.

“Before, we weren’t paying them – they were doing it for free,” Goodsell said.

Opening negotiations with TEA required the board’s approval, Goodsell said.

Goodsell said he has also notified TESPA’s president the district will have enough money in next year’s budget for all support staff to receive step increases.

“And I also contacted Mr. Jeff Thorne, the president of the administrators’ group, and I notified him that all administrators will be rehired for next year – they will appear on the March (school board) agenda – and that there is enough money in our budget next year for a step increase for all administrative personnel except for the superintendent,” said Goodsell.

Josh Newton writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.

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