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Morning Bell: Will House vote on teacher pay today?

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Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Good Monday morning! Education advocates and teachers are planning to gather at the state Capitol today ahead of a possible House vote on a $5,000 teacher pay raise. 

Several school districts are sending buses of teachers to the Capitol, including Miami schools, who plan to have as many as 30 teachers on hand to lobby lawmakers for the first teacher pay raise in 10 years. 

“Our local guys (in  the Legislature) know it — they hear from me and other administrators  throughout the state all the time. They need teachers to get in front of them and really talk to them,” Miami superintendent Jeremy Hogan told the Tulsa World

The teacher pay raise vote will only take place if House members first pass House Bill 1033XX, which would increase taxes on tobacco, gasoline, diesel fuel, wind energy, and oil and gas gross production, said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City. (The XX behind the bill number indicates it is a bill from 2017's second special session.)

It's hard to tell if it will pass as there are plenty of Republicans and Democrats who have raised concerns. On last week's Political State, Dale Denwalt and I discussed the odds headed into the vote. 

Funding concurrent enrollment

Oklahoma's concurrent enrollment program allows juniors and seniors to earn college credit while still in high school. Seniors can receive a tuition waiver for six credit hours per semester.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education requested $10.6 million to cover 100 percent of the tuition waivers next fiscal year. Right now the state is funding only 27 percent, with the colleges and universities covering the rest.

"That is definitely top priority for me," said Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sands Springs. Nollan, a task force member, chairs the House Committee on Higher Education and CareerTech.

Sexual assault education 

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill this session that would help educate middle and high school students in the state about consent and healthy relationships, in order to prevent sexual assault and abuse. (KOKH)

Once schools go four-days, it's hard to go back

About one-fifth of all 513 Oklahoma  public school districts — 91 — have a four-day school week, something  that has become synonymous with education in Oklahoma. In addition to dropping one day as a cost saving measure, many district leaders said the four-day week has become a  recruitment tool to retain and attract talented teachers. 

And most district leaders agree that it would be awfully unpopular to go back.

The Tulsa World recently looked at four-day districts and found most districts don't have any plans to return to a regular five-day week. 

“After finding the high level of preference for the 4-day week, I  believe returning to a standard 5-day week would make it more difficult  to retain and recruit teachers and support staff,” Bob Gragg, the  interim superintendent at White Rock School, said in an email.

Honoring African American education in OKC

The legacy of African American schools during the days of segregation includes some legends that finally get showcased in “Oklahoma City's African American Education,” a new book by local author and historian Anita Arnold.

Arnold's book delves into the remarkable achievements of these schools, opened against the odds of the day and in the era of Jim Crow. She documents a who's who in the black community with 180 photos, many of them never before published.

The release of “Oklahoma City's African American Education” is well-timed with the redevelopment of the historic former Douglass High School at 600 N High. The school was boarded up and abandoned for a quarter century before it reopened last year as a mix of housing with the auditorium reopened as a community space.

Edmond reviews track, stadium plans

Two major athletic projects at Edmond Memorial High School, worth an estimated $20 million, came under review by the Edmond School Board last week.

The district's chief operation officer, Justin Coffelt, outlined plans Monday for a new track facility and football stadium. The new track, complete with bleachers and locker room facilities, will be built to the north of Memorial, across from 15th Street. Coffelt said after the meeting it will cost between $7 million and $8 million.

Enid media specialist OMLEA award winner

Cristin Ashcraft, Waller Middle School (Enid) library media specialist, has been named Oklahoma Middle Level Education Association (OMLEA) Educator of the Year. 

“The time and heart that she puts into building students up, recruiting staff and selecting other community members to put in the sweat equity is a testament to her commitment to her middle school," EPS Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Doug Stafford told the Enid News & Eagle

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Check with NewsOK for updates on today's potential pay raise vote. 

Related Photos
Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-74814078b3406763462fce370733a94d.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)" title="Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)"><figcaption>Oklahoma state Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, speaks during a budget committee hearing in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)</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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