Morning Bell: Planning for pay raises a challenge
Good Thursday morning! As schools begin to let out for the summer break the above photo shows the last day of school at Edgemere Elementary in 1965. The photo is from The Oklahoman archives is care of Linda Lynn, the newspaper's News Research Editor.
As schools plan for teacher pay raises, a petition seeking to reverse a tax increase to fund the raises is putting districts in a tough spot. For example, Norman Public Schools is still planning its budget to include teacher raises, though the referendum petition could put a stop to that, reports the Norman Transcript.
Alesha Leemaster, NPS communication director, said while the district is still planning for teacher raises, that could change if the group gets enough signatures and Attorney General Mike Hunter rules the petition to be legitimate.
“We hope to be in a position to fund the pay increases our teachers deserve,” Leemaster said. “We are currently making plans to implement raises; however, we have to be financially responsible, and our planned pay increases are subject to the attorney general’s ruling.”
Students ask candidate about school safety
Students in an Altus advanced placement government class asked Lt. Gov Todd Lamb about school shootings, asking the Republican gubernatorial candidate what solutions he had.
"The things we're doing are not working," said Kristin Valerio, a junior in the class.
Lamb said he created a special commission after the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre in 2012, appointing teachers, superintendents, counselors and psychiatrists and even an architect who had designed school buildings.
Out of that, he said, the Oklahoma School Security Institute was created. The institute offers security assessments to schools and an anonymous tip line for people concerned about a potential attack.
"Oklahoma has been a national leader in school security," Lamb said.
The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel has more from Lamb's classroom visit.
Youth Leadership Edmond
More than 40 high school juniors recently graduated from the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Youth Leadership Edmond program.
The program works with youth in the area to motivate and equip high school juniors with leadership skills through interaction with local leaders, with the goal of furthering their knowledge of the community.
Over the course of seven sessions, the students also learn about local businesses, along with state and municipal governments.
The end of the school year is a time when many schools hand out awards and scholarships. In Lawton, William Jones III was honored with the Glenn Dosser Award at Eisenhower High School's annual end-of-year awards ceremony Tuesday. The award, named for a former Eisenhower High School principal, is the highest award given at the school.
Teacher grant program under investigation
The Department of Education is Federal is looking into the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant program, which includes grants that were converted into loans, reports NPR.
"It's ridiculous; it's mind-boggling," says Kaitlyn McCollum, a high school teacher in Columbia, Tenn., who is among the potentially thousands of teachers who met the teaching requirements for these grants but nevertheless were saddled with debt for money they never borrowed. "It's been two years of torture."
After NPR aired stories about the problem, emails and social media messages poured in from dozens of teachers saying this had also happened to them.
That's all for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Thursday!