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“This is an example of waste,” Complaints over “high priced” school consultant

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Some teachers are concerned over the amount being paid to a consultant in the Putnam City school district.

“This really does surprise me greatly,” said Judy Mullen Hopper.

Mullen Hopper is a former Putnam City teacher who recently ran for state senate.

She lost and now devotes her time to being a public school advocate.

She said, when she recently found out the amount being paid to a consultant, she was shocked.

“You could’ve used it for reading specialists or as they call them now instructional coaches, which actually would have been a blessing to the teachers,” Mullen Hopper said.

According to past school board agendas, they have approved payments for some schools to pay a company called Solution Tree $6,500 a day.

Solution Tree helps teachers assess their students and decide best how to help them.

“It’s a good sales pitch. Somebody went in with just the best data they could come up with and said 'If you hire these people or this lady and whoever she’s brought with her, your scores are going to go up,'” Mullen Hopper said.

“At the average high school, there’s about a hundred teachers. So, if you divide that out and make it a per teacher expense, it’s about $65 a teacher a day of professional development,” said Putnam City school district spokesperson Steve Lindley.

Lindley said individual schools pay for this with their Title I federal money and they can spend it how they see fit.

“If they need professional development, there are different decisions we could make. This is the decision we made because it most impacts student learning,” Lindley said.

And, Lindley said some schools are seeing real results.

Mayfield Middle School has gone from an 'F' school to a 'C' after four years of working with Solution Tree.

“It’s making a difference. It’s changed school cultures in some places, and it definitely does impact learning,” Lindley said.

“This is an example of waste,” Mullen Hopper said.

Mullen Hopper said in this current economic climate it’s more important than ever to scrutinize how every dollar is being spent.

Lindley said the district agrees and they welcome input on the program.

Ed Ackerman, the President and COO of Solution Tree, sent NewsChannel 4 this statement:

"Our partnership with Putnam City Schools is focused on a comprehensive plan of professional development for the teachers and other education professionals in the district.  This professional development is designed to improve the academic achievement of its students. We are pleased with the progress happening in the district, and we are proud of the hard work Putnam City Schools educators have put into the effort to ensure a high quality education for its students. We are confident that the work happening in partnership with the district is research-based and grounded in best practice."