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The Morning Bell: Charter school expands to the Myriad Gardens

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Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary. Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman
Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary. Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman

It's Friday! Some of you teachers and students are headed to Thanksgiving break after today, like those in Yukon, Mustang and Enid. 

Others, like those in Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman, have a few more days next week before the break. 

Downtown school to expand

John Rex Charter Elementary in downtown Oklahoma city officially announced Thursday that it will add sixth grade in 2018 and seventh grade in 2019. (The school has plans to add grades each year until it is preK through 12th)

The school has also promoted itself as an intimate part of the downtown neighborhood and that will continue next year as the new sixth grade class will be located inside the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

You can read more about the school's expansion plans here

--Downtown students: Just 10 percent of John Rex students were from the downtown attendance zone when the school opened in 2014. But this school year began with 151 students from the attendance zone, or 28 percent of total enrollment.

Looking ahead

In Sunday's Oklahoman (and on NewsOK.com) I'll have a story about Millwood schools converting its preK through eighth grade school into a charter, a move that allowed the school to retain several emergency certified teachers that would have had to leave without the charter switch. 

State education budget

The state Board of Education on Thursday approved a nearly $3 billion budget request for Fiscal Year 2019, one that funds teacher pay raises and textbooks and boosts spending for reading and alternative education programs.

The spending plan is $473.6 million more than was appropriated for the current fiscal year.

The $2.9 billion request by the state Education Department, which will be reviewed by the state Legislature, includes $287.8 million for a $5,000 teacher pay raise that is "regionally competitive."

You can read more of Tim Willert's coverage from yesterday's meeting here

Yukon teacher arrested

Hunter Day, a 22-year-old first-year teacher at Yukon High School, was arrested Wednesday after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. The science teacher was arrested by Canadian County deputies after the student’s parents notified authorities that they found nude photographs on his phone and thought he might be having sex with his chemistry teacher.

Emergency certified teachers 

Another round of emergency certified teachers were approved by the state Board of Education on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 1,814.


--The new normal: We entered this school year with the state superintendent calling the growing use of emergency certified teachers the "new normal." In 2012 just 32 emergency certified teachers were used across Oklahoma.

Economy and education 

"The elephant in the room is: We don't seem able to fund basic government functions at the level we need to, primarily education." That was the message from Dan Rickman, regents professor of economics at the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, who spoke Wednesday at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber's State of the Economy presentation.

The effect of inadequate education funding was noticeable even before the oil and natural gas industry fell into its deepest downturn in three decades, Rickman said.

"Beginning in 2008 and continuing in 2011, the economy has underperformed for what it should be, even accounting for the energy sector," he said. "The item that seems to correlate the most is education funding."

You can read more from Wednesday's forum here

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Be sure to check our The Oklahoman this weekend. In addition to the charter conversion story I referenced above, on Monday I'll have a story on a Del City student mentorship and life skills program. 

Have a great weekend!

Related Photos
Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary.  Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman

Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary. Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f2edca92bbf3ed805f8ab66d32d92946.jpg" alt="Photo - Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary. Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman" title="Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary. Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Salvador Trejo, a fourth-grader, draws during his second day of class at John Rex Elementary. Photo by Eriech Tapia, for The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
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 ›

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