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Local Democrats Meet with Ogden District Superintendent

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith met with a group of Weber County Democrats this morning who are concerned about how education officials are managing the district. 

Back in June the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus requested information from the school district on testing data, teacher attrition and copies of the budget. 

Kim Irvine is chair of the Caucus. She says too many teachers are leaving Ogden schools because of mandatory curriculum changes and budget cuts that have taken effect since attorney Brad Smith became the district superintendent in 2011.

“We’re concerned that the ratio of experience in the district is dwindling to the point where there aren’t really enough teachers that are experienced enough to mentor these brand new nascent teachers," Irvine says.

Irvine says a new mandatory curriculum the district implemented last year means school teachers had to forego their course plans. And this spring, 20 full-time librarians were let go in response to a $2.7 million budget deficit. At the same time, the district successfully bonded to maintain public swimming pools. Irvine says that’s a big frustration. 

“Why does Ogden School District give us a chance to vote on things like repairing the pools and does not give us a chance to vote on budgetary items like, do we fire the librarians?”, Irvine says. 

Superintendent Brad Smith agreed to hand over the information the group requested.

But he contended, two years ago his district had six of the ten lowest performing elementary schools in the state of Utah. Now, he says they’re seeing as much as a 30 percent increase in student math and language arts proficiency. He credits changes in leadership, instruction and greater access to student data.

“That’s extremely painful for folks that have been successful teachers for a long time and now somebody is coming in," Smith says. "Especially somebody from outside education, such as myself saying gee, we’ve got to do things differently. That’s extremely confrontational, it’s painful, it’s disruptive and it’s also necessary.”

Smith says about 120 teachers have left the district since 2012.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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