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Morning Bell: OKC schools reduce suspensions, but black student rate remains high

Good Wednesday morning. Over the past few years, Oklahoma City schools have significantly reduced the number of students it suspends each year. However, the disproportionate suspension rate of black students remains high.

Oklahoma City Public Schools issued 40 percent fewer suspensions during the 2016-17 school year, compared to four years earlier. District leaders expect that overall number to be down again when statistics from the most recent school year are released later this summer.

But of the 3,382 students suspended during the 2016-17 school year, 44 percent were black, despite the fact that black students make up just 24 percent of district enrollment.

Preliminary data shared with The Oklahoman indicates the black suspension rate remained high as black students accounted for 48 percent of suspension during the 2017-18 school year, based on duplicated numbers, which mean the same student is counted separately for each suspension.

Tulsa reviewing pay options

After the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association said Tulsa Public Schools plan to pay teachers their legislated raise in the form of a stipend was premature, the district appeared to walk the plan back, reports the Tulsa World

“The logistics will be determined in contract negotiations, which haven’t happened yet,” said district spokeswoman Emma Garrett Nelson.

That statement comes after TCTA President Patti Ferguson-Palmer told the World Monday, “TCTA and TPS have not engaged in contract negotiations for next year yet, so any talk of a stipend is premature. As always, we will advocate for teachers to receive their full raise as it was intended.”

TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist said the district has no alternative but stipends if it’s going to pay the raise and doing otherwise could potentially bankrupt the district. You can read more from the Tulsa World here

Alsofrom the Tulsa World, a Broken Arrow teacher was arrested and charged Tuesday on allegations he molested at least four of his students during the last school year at Aspen Creek Elementary.

The district issued a strong statement: "While everyone is innocent until proven guilty, the type of behavior alleged in this case is disgusting and we do not tolerate it. We have been cooperating with the Broken Arrow Police Department and other authorities, and we thank them for conducting a thorough investigation."

Nearly 1 in 5 public school teachers have second jobs during the school year, a new analysis of federal data shows.

According to an article from Education Week: Half of teachers with second jobs are working in a field outside of education, while 5 percent of teachers are taking on a second teaching or tutoring job outside of their school districts. And 4 percent of teachers have a job that is not teaching, but is still related to the teaching field.

In higher ed news: The University of Oklahoma is losing $36 million a year as expenses continue to outpace revenues, the incoming president said Tuesday.

"Total debt is almost $1 billion at our Norman campus,” said Jim Gallogly, who becomes OU's 14th president July 1. Debt service costs are almost $70 million a year, he said.

“Our debt has more than doubled in the last 10 years as we've been on a building campaign," Gallogly said. "As a result of that, we have a beautiful campus and a lot to be proud of, but during that period of time, we spent approximately $730 million.”

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

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 ›