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The Morning Bell: Teachers left with 'broken promise' following House vote

A package of tax increases that would have mostly filled the state's budget hole and also provided a $3,000 pay raise for teachers failed in the House yesterday

House Bill 1054 did not receive the 76 votes required by the state constitution for a tax hike to advance. Its failure left lawmakers without any clear plans to fill the bulk of a $215 million shortfall that threatens critical social service programs.

The vote brought immediate rebuke from many education groups across the state. 

“Today’s defeat of HB 1054x is a huge blow for Oklahoma’s dedicated teachers, public servants and the citizens of our state," said Pam Deering, executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. 

"Once again, political gamesmanship and partisan politics have won the day at the expense of Oklahoma children and families," said Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. "Holding out for a perfect plan when a strong compromise is on the table is incredibly short-sighted."

“Our teachers are once again left with a broken promise from politicians who care more about protecting powerful special interests than doing what’s right to put Oklahoma on a better path," said Amber England, executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma. 

--PRINCIPAL REMOVAL SOUGHT: A popular principal removed following a student protest at Northeast Academy for Health Sciences and Engineering is facing the loss of her job, the attorney for Sue Starr said Wednesday.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora is recommending the termination of Starr, who has been on paid leave since Oct. 25, attorney Robert Redwine told The Oklahoman.

--FUNDING FORMULA: State lawmakers are in the early stages of possibly changing Oklahoma's complex school funding formula, which has remained virtually unchanged for 36 years despite major shifts in public education and student needs. During the challenging fiscal climate, some lawmakers have scrutinized the way school districts spend money and have raised questions about the state funding formula.

--HOF INDUCTION: Retired Putnam City music educator Anne Guevara will be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Educators Association (OkMEA) Hall of Fame on Thursday, Jan. 18. The ceremony is a part of the OkMEA Winter Conference in Tulsa. 

--A teacher previously employed at a northwest Oklahoma school allegedly solicited nude photographs of a 14-year-old student whom he once coached in basketball, reports the Tulsa World. Vincent Chad Warford, 45, a former teacher at Freedom Public Schools in Woods County, allegedly contacted the former student in September, requesting salacious photos, according to court records.

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›