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Morning Bell: Teacher-pay vote costly for some lawmakers

Good Thursday morning! If there's a common thread running through Tuesday's Republican voter revolt, it's the intersection of education politics and the budget that perplexed Oklahoma lawmakers over the past year, which led to a $474 million tax package and teacher pay raise, reports The Oklahoman's Dale Denwalt.

Denwalt writes: Even though the pay raise bill passed nearly unanimously after months of negotiation, there were several legislators who weren't so enthusiastic about paying for it with new revenue.

Nine of the 19 House lawmakers who voted against tax hikes in March were either voted out of office Tuesday or face a runoff election in August.

"You can't say you voted for a teacher pay raise but didn't vote for the revenue," said state Rep. Chris Kannady, an Oklahoma City Republican who easily won his party's nomination to keep working at the Capitol.

State board meets today

The state Board of Education meets this morning. Approving emergency certification requests for teachers will be on the agenda and the board is expected to approve many more certificates than at this point last year. Around 370 emergency certification requests from districts have been submitted ahead of the next school year, a nearly 65 percent increase compared to this point last year.

When districts are unable to find a qualified teacher, they can use an emergency certified teacher with approval from the state Board of Education.

Oklahoma schools used 1,975 emergency certified teachers last year, which are teachers who lack state certification and most have not passed a test in the subject area they were hired to teach.

Just six years ago, 32 emergency certified teachers were used in Oklahoma.

Former OKCPS principal to lead Millwood school 

Warren Pete will lead Millwood Arts Academy Middle School as its principal beginning July 23, Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods said in a news release.

Pete succeeds Candice Hamilton-Greene, who left to become principal at Bodine Elementary in the Oklahoma City district.

For four years, Pete was principal of F.D. Moon Academy, where he was known for his colorful bow ties and frequently enlisted community leaders to mentor students and teach them the art of tying a necktie.

He resigned his position in May 2017. It was not clear whether Pete was forced out or faced reassignment. No reason was given for his departure.

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 ›