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Morning Bell: School safety a growing focus

Good Friday morning! In a year when school safety has received a lot of attention due to high-profile school shootings, the state Board of Education has discussed what can be done to make Oklahoma schools safer

School building design standards and identifying troubled students were topics discussed by state Board of Education leaders at a May 24 meeting in the wake of another school shooting that resulted in multiple casualties.

But most of the ideas tossed around would require legislative action and some board members remarked on how little power they felt they had in preventing a school shooting in Oklahoma.

In Mustang, the Board of Education has approved the hiring of Jennifer Newell to fill the new position of director of school safety and security.

Newell, a retired officer for the Norman Police Department, has nearly five years experience as the program manager for the Oklahoma School Security Institute through the Office of Homeland Security.

“Her background and connections are going to take Mustang to the next level in providing safe, secure environments for our students,” said Interim Superintendent Charles Bradley.

Virtual charters could receive more scrutiny 

With all four of the state’s virtual charter schools reporting low graduation rates, Oklahoma lawmakers said Thursday that they’ll have to look more closely into how the statewide schools function, reports CNHI

State Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, said legislators may need to consider allowing the four online statewide charter schools — Epic Charter Schools, Insight School of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Connections Academy and Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy — to have more selective admission standards in an effort to boost student success.

Currently, the schools must admit any Oklahoma student — no matter how far behind they are in school or regardless of whether they’d actually thrive in a virtual classroom environment, he said. You can read Janelle Stecklein's story about the meeting here

INBOX:Employee volunteers from Cherokee Nation Businesses recently visited several local schools to deliver donated supplies to classrooms in need. Employees delivered more than 5,000 items, including classroom necessities such as writing utensils, paper, scissors, rulers, folders, tissue and cleaning supplies.

“Collinsville Indian Education program would like to thank Cherokee Nation Businesses for donating school supplies,” said Janice Fields, director of Indian Education for Collinsville Public Schools. “It is always a welcome and generous donation to our students and staff.”

Schools in Tahlequah, Catoosa, Muldrow, Claremore, Ramona, Sallisaw, Bell, South Coffeyville, Collinsville, Braggs, Marble City, Colcord and Afton received supplies from the tribe’s business arm and entertainment properties.

Math, engineering event planned

Middle school students statewide can register for It's MathE, a mathematics and engineering enrichment program. The event will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 22 at Cameron University. Registration is free and limited to 50 participants.

Attendees will demonstrate their problem-solving skills in a series of team events. The program will kick off with team-building exercises. Then, each team will work through a series of challenges where they must develop a strategy using mathematics and its applications. The program will conclude with an awards ceremony.

Mentors will include members of Cameron's MathCom and CU Engineering Club as well as high school students who participated in the university's recent Engineering and Applied Mathematics Summer Academy.

To register, go to Direct questions to Irene Corriette at or Sheila Youngblood at

That does it for today's Morning Bell. See you on Monday. Have a great weekend!

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 ›