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Morning Bell: Textbook fund about $55 per student

A group of educators from Lawton arrived at the state Capitol on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers. Photo by Ben Felder.
A group of educators from Lawton arrived at the state Capitol on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers. Photo by Ben Felder.

Good Thursday morning. We are still in debrief mode following the two-week teacher walkout and The Oklahoman will have series of stories in the coming weeks that take a closer look at what happened and what didn't. 

One of the outcomes of the walkout, or at least the threat of the walkout, was a funding package approved by lawmakers for teacher pay raises and school resources. It included $33 million for textbooks, a line item that hadn't been funded for several years. 

That $33 million is expected to come out to about $55 a student, which can be tough to purchase one textbook with. However, the statute is broadly written and can cover a wide array of instructional materials. 

Oklahoma teachers continue to travel to Capitol

Even with the walkout over, teachers have traveled to the Capitol this week to speak with lawmakers. Numerous schools have sent small teams to advocate for additional funding, including Lawton. 

"We have little apples, we are giving each legislator a little apple that just says 'thank you from Lawton.' We are giving them our district profile sheet that tells them about our kids and our schools and we want them to know that Lawton isn't going anywhere," said Megan Veldhuizen, a grant and STEM coordinator for Lawton Public Schools, who joined about 20 other educators from her district at the Capitol on Wednesday. 

Colorado schools consider walkout

Teachers from Colorado’s two largest school districts are planning back-to-back walkouts next week to call for more funding for education – and they could be joined by other districts, reports Chalkbeat

Piedmont changes makeup plan

A miscalculation by the state Education Department had the leader of the school district in Piedmont apologizing to parents Wednesday for having to add two days of instruction.

Superintendent James White told parents last week that despite closing 10 days for the teacher walkout, the district would be able to meet the number of instructional hours required by the state "without adding any additional days to our school calendar."

On Wednesday, White reversed course, telling parents the agency "had given us inaccurate information regarding our calculation of our instructional hours."

"Therefore, we need to make an adjustment to our school calendar," he said in a voice message. "School will be in session this Friday, April, 20th, and on Friday, May 25. We certainly apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Three PC orchestras to be in London performances

The Past Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Steve Summers, issued an official invitation for orchestras from Putnam City West, Putnam City North and Putnam City High to participate in London's New Year's Day Parade and Festival 2020.

Robert Bone, executive director of the parade and festival, and Jonathan Whaley, director of International Participation, accompanied Summers.

“These are three accomplished orchestras that are a credit to their community," Bone said. "We believe that they are ready to perform before an international audience. London just loves the USA, so the warmest of welcomes awaits them.”

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 ›