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Morning Bell: Rural schools lose students and funds

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Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Good Friday morning! 

First up: Parents at John Rex charter elementary school in downtown OKC have planned a protest this morning in response to Kirk Humphreys' (who servers on the John Rex board) derogatory comments toward homosexuals. They are calling on him to resign from the board, which he says he won't do

Rural enrollment shrinks. So does funding.

Factory closings, retail development following highways that bypass the center of town and the consolidation of farms have led to population declines in much of rural Oklahoma — and declines in school enrollment.

That decline in enrollment means the loss of state funding. 

While Oklahoma's statewide public school enrollment continues to grow, 36 counties have seen combined student enrollment declines over the past decade, almost all classified as rural counties.

“Our student enrollment is dropping every year, so trying to adjust costs as it relates to the number of students that we have can be a challenge,” said Anadarko superintendent Cindy Hackney.

Earlier this year I wrote about the enrollment decline of rural schools and the financial crunch it creates. 

Yukon school reopens after flu outbreak 

"Things went well. The kids are back, teachers are rolling and absenteeism is down to about 90 students," Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Jason Simeroth said. "We have 25 less absences than we did Tuesday. I think we may be over the hump."

Central Elementary reported 25 fewer flu-related absences Thursday when the school reopened to students.

Lawmaker wants local control increased in charter decisions

State Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, said he’s filed legislation to reverse a 2015 law allowing Oklahoma State Board of Education to overrule decisions made by locally elected school boards when it is time to approve creation of new charter schools, reports EnidNews.com.

The state Board of Education overturned the Seminole school board's decision to deny a charter application in its community, raising concerns over how much local control districts actually have. 

Bixby substitute arrested

Police arrested a Bixby substitute teacher Anna Ruth Lewis, 22, Wednesday on allegations she attempted to plan a sexual rendezvous with a student. She allegedly communicated with a high school student through social media apps, including Instagram and Snapchat, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Winter break student feeding in OKC

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is partnering with eight sites around the metro to provide meals and snacks to students, Dec. 14 through Dec. 29, reports KFOR. Any child 18 and under can receive a free meal and a snack on weekdays at the sites.

That does it for today's newsletter. Today, I'll be tweeting from the John Rex parent protest. This weekend look for some stories from me on the lack of candidate running for school board seats and new teachers entering the field. 

Have a great weekend!

Related Photos
Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c745449bc90ae79f148780af14a19ce0.jpg" alt="Photo - Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman" title="Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Wind turbines east of Okarche are seen behind the Okarche elementary school, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, 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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