Morning Bell: Should city hall run the OKC school district?
At a time when Oklahoma City Public Schools is searching for a new superintendent, there is a growing sense that OKC city hall wants to be more involved in the district's future.
First, incoming mayor David Holt has said he wants education to be an important aspect of his office, even though the city has no direct authority with public school districts inside the city limits.
Now, a city councilman is floating the idea of OKCPS converting to a charter district sponsored by the city of Oklahoma City.
“The Oklahoma City public school system is faced with so many challenges right now that the traditional way of operating and providing education is just not working very well,” Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell said in remarks to the council last week.
Who knows if this proposal has legs and it would require some state law changes. The Oklahoman's Bill Crum has more on the proposal.
But it's another example of city leaders talking more about what role city hall should have in leading local education.
Ex-teacher's aide pleads guilty to molesting students
An ex-teacher's aide pleaded guilty Thursday to molesting 10 girls at an elementary school here and agreed to spend 10 years in prison. Arnold Cowen, 86, pleaded guilty to 21 felony counts after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.
Enid offering staff retention bonus
Enid Public Schools is offering a retention bonus for current employees who make a commitment by March 16 to return for next school year.
“It’s win-win,” Superintendent Dr. Darrell Floyd said in a release this week announcing the program. “Our teachers and support staff are very deserving of this retention bonus, and we want to show our appreciation for their commitment to their students and to Enid Public Schools. We also believe this plan will help us retain the best and brightest education professionals. In light of the teacher shortage, along with other employee shortages, it is critically important that we keep our talent here, where they can make a difference for Enid students.”
Under the plan, certified staff members will be paid $1,000, and support staff members will be paid $500, for making a commitment for the 2018-19 school year. Next week, employees will receive correspondence asking them if they would like to take advantage of the retention bonus offer. A commitment must be made by March 16 in order for employees to qualify, and then payment will be included in their June 20 paychecks.
Lawmaker declines student invitation to attend walkout
The Bartlesville student who extended the invite also posted a Facebook event for a student walkout today, protesting proposed state budget cuts.
The impact of education cuts
Oklahoma Policy Institute executive director David Blatt recently wrote a blog post detailing the many ways Oklahoma's education system is challenged. "Beyond these well-publicized problems, the impact of budget cuts can be seen in just about every district, school, and classroom in the state," blatt wrote. "Based on personal testimonies, media coverage, and data on teachers, classes and students from the State Department of Education, here are a few ways in which budget cuts are being felt."
Growing class sizes, a decrease in course offerings and fewer support services were some of the impacts Blatt highlighted in his column.
UCO students surprise alums with school supplies
Two Edmond schoolteachers were surprised recently with CARE packages from teachers-in-training at the University of Central Oklahoma. Members of the student group Central Association for Responsive Educators (CARE) delivered classroom supplies to Lynette George, a fourth-grade teacher at Ida Freeman Elementary School, and Alanna Milligan, a third-grade teacher at Northern Hills Elementary School.
A teacher at Overholser Elementary School in Bethany will be surprised with free supplies this week, said Jill Davis, an assistant professor and a faculty adviser to CARE.
Former principal pens books
Lee Roland, who spent 12 years as principal of Tulakes Elementary in the Putnam City Schools district in northwest Oklahoma City, released "Fantastic Voyage" earlier this month, in which he writes about his time as principal, often sharing the way he motivated teachers, welcomed parents and worked alongside students, most of whom came from impoverished homes. I wrote about his book and sat down with him to discuss it in The Oklahoman's studio.
That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great weekend!