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Morning Bell: 'April 2 is still on'

[img hash="5c8198d805dce62b0a1b5dc69d712b23" width="" height="" align="center" render="w620" caption="Jenny Scott, a mother of two Oklahoma City students, said she is prepared to keep her kids at home during a possible teachers strike next month. [Photo by Ben Felder, The Oklahoman]" ]22[/img]

Good Tuesday morning. The House of Representatives mustered enough votes yesterday to raise several taxes, including raising the rate charged on the production of oil and gas to 5 percent. The bill's revenue of an estimated $447 million would pay for a salary hike for teachers, school support personnel and state employees. 

Despite an average pay raise of more than $6,000 that was also approved Monday, the Oklahoma Education Association said the teacher strike would go as planned.

"April 2 is still on. Our ask is still our ask," the group tweeted Monday. "The House is considering a number of bills tonight that could be a step in the right direction. We're still asking for a complete package, including funding for years 2 and 3."

Preparing for a strike

For many Oklahoma teachers the next few days will involve cramming in lessons ahead of a possible long-term teachers strike. 

"It's kind of nerve-wracking because we don't know how long we will be out," said Marissa McGinley, a fourth-grade teacher at Coronado Heights Elementary School in Putnam City Schools. "I've told my students to really pay attention this week because we don't know how long we will be out."

I wrote today about the looming strike and how teachers are preparing their students and preparing themselves for a showdown with lawmakers. 

Families are also preparing for a possible teacher walkout, some of which are in a scramble to find child care. 

“It can be a financial burden for some parents more than others, especially depending on how long the strike goes on," said Carrie Williams, executive director of Rainbow Fleet, a central Oklahoma organization offering child care referral services. "If you are a parent of a special-needs child, this is a pretty serious situation because you can't just drop your child off anywhere."

You can read more about how families are preparing for the strike and what resources they have here

Nearly 500,000 students would be out of school on Monday if a strike took place, according to a survey that found at least 172 school districts plan to close. 

Students need intense intervention 

Oklahoma City Public Schools has a "massive" number of students in need of "intense intervention," its chief academic officer told board members Monday night.

Lynn Barnes said the district has "got to fix" intervention and core instruction practices, pointing to 17 percent of fifth-graders and 10 percent of eighth-graders who tested proficient in math last year.

Only 20 percent of fifth-graders tested proficient in English Language Arts while 17 percent of eighth-graders tested proficient in English Language Arts, Barnes said.

"We have a massive number of kids who need intense intervention," she said. "The core instruction that is going on has to change."

In higher education news....

James "Jim" Gallogly will become the 14th president of the University of Oklahoma this summer. The OU Board of Regents made the appointment in a special meeting Monday morning.

Gallogly, 65, a former energy executive and graduate of the OU College of Law, was selected from seven finalists interviewed for the position.

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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 ›