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Morning Bell: Countdown to the Oklahoma spelling bee

Rohan Rajeev, tries to spell "marram" during the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year during the final round. [Photo provided by Scripps National Spelling Bee]
Rohan Rajeev, tries to spell "marram" during the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year during the final round. [Photo provided by Scripps National Spelling Bee]

The Oklahoma Spelling Bee is this coming Saturday and The Oklahoman will be live streaming the entire competition on As we get ready for the big day, here are some thoughts from Edmond native Rohan Rajeev, last year's Central Oklahoma Spelling Bee Champion and Runner Up for the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Student protest last week

Hundreds of Bartlesville students walked out of class last Friday morning to protest another round of midyear budget reductions affecting Oklahoma teachers. The walkout lasted 22 minutes as a representation of the $22 million in cuts to common education, higher education and CareerTech passed this week by the Legislature.

Several teenagers held signs bearing messages such as, "If you think education is expensive try ignorance" and "Don't tell me you value education. Show me your budget. I'll tell you what you value." The Tulsa World has more

WATCH: Two lawmakers with education ties spoke with me on last week's episode of Political State. Rep. Tammy West, a former school board members, and Rep. Rhonda Baker, a former teacher, talked about the failed teacher pay raise plan and what they are hearing from their education colleagues. 

Arming teachers?

President Donald Trump has posted several tweets in favor of arming teachers who have advanced firearms training to “instantly” solve school shootings in America.

The Oklahoma Legislature addressed that issue three years ago by authorizing school boards to adopt policies allowing school personnel to carry handguns on school premises, reports the Tulsa World

Via Oklahoma Watch: Only one district in the state, Okay Public Schools, located southeast of Tulsa, has passed a policy, and staffers have concealed weapons. Certified law enforcement personnel, such as school resource officers, may carry firearms in schools.

Second Muskogee student arrested after found gun

There has been a rise in reported threats against schools across the country, including Oklahoma. In Muskogee last week, a second student was arrested in connection with a gun being found in a student's backpack at Muskogee's Alice Robertson Junior High, school officials said.

"There has not been any information from the investigation that indicates any other students beyond the two arrested, were involved," a press release from Muskogee Public Schools said on Thursday afternoon.

School officials said there have also been rumors circulating on social media and at the school related to the incident.

A person was taken into custody Sunday in connection with threats made against the Bridge Creek Schools district, according to a statement posted on the district's website late Sunday.

Yukon settles with food distributor 

Yukon Public Schools officials have approved a secret financial settlement with a food distribution company accused of fraudulently overcharging the district by more than $700,000, reports The Oklahoman's Randy Ellis

Terms of the settlement were not revealed in the federal court lawsuit and a nondisclosure agreement approved by the school district and Sysco Oklahoma, the food distributor, prohibits them from discussing that information, attorneys said.

The Oklahoman has submitted an open records request to the school district for a copy of the settlement check, but the district has not yet fulfilled that request. State law requires public bodies to make their financial records available for inspection when requested.

OKC board to hear from Texas education official

A Texas education official will discuss the finer points of board governance at tonight's work session of the Oklahoma City School Board.

A.J. Crabill is deputy commissioner of governance with the Texas Education Agency. Previously he spent eight years as a board member for Kansas City Public Schools.

Chairwoman Paula Lewis said the Oklahoma City board "needs a process" to govern by and could benefit from someone with Crabill's experience.

"Our board's responsibility is to make sure we have a vision for this district," Lewis said Friday. "It's super important that we have some clearly stated goals before we hire a superintendent."

OKC students receive new shoes and spikes

Representatives from Fields & Futures, Cleats 4 Kids, and Red Coyote Running and Fitness fitted OKC high school students with brand new running shoes and sprint spikes last week. 

Fields & Futures, which builds and maintains athletic fields for Oklahoma City Public Schools, raised $9,000 to purchase the shoes and spikes for athletes at Grant, John Marshall Mid-High School and Northwest Classen High School.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Monday!

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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 ›