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Morning Bell: OKC school board says it needs to refocus

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Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Good Wednesday morning. Some Oklahoma educators have been keeping a close eye on a teacher strike in West Virginia, which continued on Tuesday but appears to be coming to an end after the governor promised a 5 percent raise. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a case that could impact teacher unions. 

But first, some members of the Oklahoma City Public Schools board believe they focus too much "on stuff that's not related to kids," and that board meetings often "don't reflect our real values."

Those were some of the thoughts expressed during a board work session on Monday, according to The Oklahoman's Tim Willert

The board's soul searching comes at a time when the district is in need of a new superintendent. 

"It's super important that we have some clearly stated goals before we hire a superintendent," Chairwoman Paula Lewis  said during Monday's meeting. 

In the past, the OKCPS district has often seen a new strategy and plan come after it hires a new superintendent. That's not uncommon as a new superintendent will want to create their own strategy. 

However, the school board is technically the boss of the superintendent and it appears the board would like to have a firm philosophy in place before it hires a superintendent to fulfill it. 

That approach means interviews with potential superintendents would ask candidates how they plan to achieve the board's mission, rather than asking candidates what their own mission would be. 

Memories of an Oklahoma school shooting

In 1999 a shooting at Fort Gibson Middle School in Muskogee County left five injured.

“It is, understandably, a sensitive subject for a lot of people around here,” said Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover, who is pictured at the top of today's newsletter. “When you hear of these school shootings around the country, it is hard for a lot of people here in Fort Gibson because they are living it. They were here.”

Fort Gibson Public Schools implemented new safety measures not long after the shooting and has refined those plans over the past 18 years, reports the Tulsa World

State spelling bee: 'It's extremely nerve-racking'

Jasmyne Le, the 2016 Oklahoma spelling bee championship, visited the NewsOK studios recently to talk about how she prepared for the competition and passed along some tips for future competitors. The state spelling bee is this Saturday and The Oklahoman will be live streaming the entire event. 

Brisa Ledezma, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, talks to her students at Santa Fe South, 4701 S. Shields Ave., in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Ledezma is a DACA recipient. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Brisa Ledezma, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, talks to her students at Santa Fe South, 4701 S. Shields Ave., in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Ledezma is a DACA recipient. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Fate of 'Dreamers' still in limbo

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration's highly unusual bid to bypass a federal appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

DACA supporters hailed the decision as a significant — if only temporary — win. Trump said the case would now be heard by an appeals court and "we'll see what happens from there."

DACA recipients remain stuck in limbo, grappling with the fear and anxiety of an uncertain future. There are thousands of DACA recipients in Oklahoma, including Brisa Ledezma (pictured above), a teacher at Santa Fe South in OKC. 

"Every deadline that passes and nothing gets through or something goes through and then it fails, ... it kills a little part of your hope," Ledezma said. 

Teacher strike ends in West Virginia 

Teachers in West Virginia are set to end their strike on Thursday after a proposal for a five percent raise, pending a vote of the Legislature. Teachers left the classroom even while they were threatened with legal action, reports the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Last week, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is running for U.S. Senate, called the work stoppage “illegal,” and offered to assist any state agency or board with legal remedies, and to assist any county board of education or school superintendent to enforce the law.

Recently, an Oklahoma teachers union leader said a local strike was "possible, if not probable.

Something else to watch: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday regarding Janus v. American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, a case that will have wide-ranging effects on the power of teacher’s unions and their ability to collect compulsory fees to support their advocacy and political efforts, Ed Source reports.

Oklahoma A+ Schools wins $45,000 arts grant

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced it will award a $45,000 Art Works grant to Oklahoma A+ Schools at the University of Central Oklahoma to help educators integrate the arts into curriculum at new schools entering the A+ Schools network.

Support professional of the year

Tomlinson Middle School's James Suttles is being honored as the first-ever Oklahoma Education Support Professional of the Year. He will soon be heading to the national conference and possibly win the national title, reports KSWO

"I have fun every day,” Suttles said. “Every day I come here and I get to coaching. I have fun, man. I love the high fives. I love the smiles."

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Wednesday!

Related Photos
Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well.  MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-720ca53887670ee90fe3090a15f144ed.jpg" alt="Photo - Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World" title="Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World"><figcaption>Greg Phares, principal of Fort Gibson Middle School, in the courtyard where the shooting happened Feb. 19, 2018. Phares was principal at the time of the shooting as well. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f9662fd3dfdfcdde395163d83a0a8800.jpg" alt="Photo - Brisa Ledezma, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, talks to her students at Santa Fe South, 4701 S. Shields Ave., in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Ledezma is a DACA recipient. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman" title="Brisa Ledezma, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, talks to her students at Santa Fe South, 4701 S. Shields Ave., in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Ledezma is a DACA recipient. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Brisa Ledezma, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, talks to her students at Santa Fe South, 4701 S. Shields Ave., in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Ledezma is a DACA recipient. Photo by Nate Billings, 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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