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education

Stacey Haynes goes over spelling words with her third-grade class in Washington, Okla.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

State Question 779 could bring in millions for schools in the Oklahoma City metro, but the proportional breakdown means the smallest districts would receive just a few thousand dollars.

School buses are parked at the Oklahoma City Public Schools Operations Center in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

For 22 years, the state miscalculated how much property tax should go back to local school districts. That means hundreds of campuses lost money over that time period, while the rest got more than they deserved.

Some Oklahoma school districts are now going after millions of dollars they say were applied the wrong way, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

Randy Harris is superintendent of Wagoner Public Schools.
Provided / Oklahoma Weekly Group

More than 100 school districts in Oklahoma are thinking about implementing a four-day school week, and that’s putting pressure on working parents. It’s also forcing employers to adjust.

In the eastern Oklahoma town of Wagoner, several major employers haven’t complained about absent parents. Daycare centers are also expanding to make room for more children, even though childcare availability in the state has shrunk significantly since 2008.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Figures released Tuesday by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association show about $370 million would go toward teacher recruitment and retention if voters approve State Question 779 this fall.

Supporters say the 1 percent sales tax proposal would generate $615 million per year for common and higher education. Part of that money would be used for a $5,000 teacher pay raise.

Gloria Torres, Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education, District 6.
Oklahoma City Public Schools

The president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers is calling on an Oklahoma City Public School Board member to temporarily resign.

During Monday night's OKCPS board meeting, Ed Allen said Gloria Torres should step down over accusations she may have been involved in enrollment fraud at Oklahoma City Community College.

“I think it is appropriate – if any board member is under investigation for criminal conduct – that board member should not participate in any board activity until cleared by the investigation," Allen said.

student in a classroom using a laptop computer
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Black and Hispanic students are much less likely to be identified as “gifted” than their white and Asian counterparts — a disparity found in Oklahoma that mirrors national statistics on gifted and talented education.

In Oklahoma, black students make up 9 percent of all students but 4.5 percent of students in gifted and talented programs. Similarly, Hispanic students comprise 16 percent of all students but 10 percent of students classified as gifted and talented.

Students rally against Oklahoma City Public Schools budget cuts in May 2016.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

A new statewide survey found that at least 2,800 public school jobs have been lost to budget cuts this year.

The survey, conducted by the Oklahoma State School Board Association, showed that 1,500 of those jobs lost were teaching positions and 1,300 were support staff.

The OSSBA conducted the survey during the first two weeks of August. Districts representing about 83 percent of the state’s public school enrollment participated.

Other survey results show:

Study: Tulsa Head Start Program Produces Lasting Positive Effects

Aug 18, 2016
classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

An analysis of participants in a Tulsa Head Start program found many indicators that the federal early-education program works — and the positive effects last into middle school.

Overall, participants in the Community Action Project Head Start program had higher math scores, lower rates of grade retention and were less likely to be chronically absent.

The findings are significant because they contrast with other research showing the program’s positive effects fade quickly.

Teachers In Oklahoma Expected To Spend Hundreds On Classroom Supplies

Aug 14, 2016
Tulsa high school history teacher Vince Facione expected to spend at least $300 before the first day of school. He gives each of his 190 students a three-ring binder.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Elementary music teacher Tony Flores’ entire classroom budget for the year will be expended on music for three performances. Last year, he bought new instruments, to the tune of $1,000 out of his own bank account.

In Danielle Childers’ pre-kindergarten classroom, students will have snacks for snack time, mats for naptime and stickers for a job well done, but the cost of those items falls on her.

empty classroom
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Leaders of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration are supporting a legal challenge filed in the state Supreme Court this week by Oklahoma City attorney David Slane.

The Norman Public Schools' administrative offices.
Jennifer Palmer / Oklahoma Watch

Parents upset over the axing of a Norman Public Schools language program are driving an effort to create what could be the state’s second charter school allowed outside Oklahoma City and Tulsa under a new law.

A group of parents is asking the district to sponsor the school, which would continue the mission of a French immersion program that was eliminated in the spring at Reagan Elementary School to save the district $400,000. The charter school, Le Monde International School, also would offer Spanish immersion.

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley and Renee Alvarado Porter at the announcement for the new Cristo Rey high school on Aug. 4, 2016.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

A new Catholic high school geared toward low income students will open in Oklahoma City in the fall of 2017. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced Thursday that the new Cristo Rey school will be located on Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City campus.

 

The Cristo Rey model heavily uses work-study. All students work at a partner corporation one day a week.

 

Oklahoma's new academic standards
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

School starts Monday for Oklahoma City Public Schools, and many more districts across the state will begin classes in the coming weeks. With the new year comes new academic standards, but the teacher training on these new standards may be compromised by tight school budgets.

“With the current budget situation, I’m not going to lie, our professional development budget was one of the first things that they cut,” said Shannon Thompson, the Dean of Academics for Moore Public Schools.

Kevin McDonald, Edmond Memorial High School English teacher, directs the percussion session of the band during a practice in Edmond, Okla., on Thursday.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

State officials are considering what to do with $140.8 million dollars cut from state agencies in the middle of Fiscal Year 2016, but can now be spent. The money is available because General Revenue Fund reductions required by FY 2016’s midyear revenue failure were deeper than necessary.

Gov. Mary Fallin says she is considering using the money to fund teacher pay raises.

Parents and teachers attending the July 25, 2016 Edmond City Council meeting to support State Question 779.
Jay Williams / Twitter

The City of Edmond passed a resolution Monday night opposing a ballot initiative this fall that would raise Oklahoma’s sales tax by 1 percent to pay for education.

The tax hike would raise about $615 million per year for common and higher education in the state, but Edmond city leaders are worried it would hinder economic development. Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. where cities and towns rely on local sales taxes as their primary source of revenue.

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