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Morning Bell: 'We heard loud and clear from our community'

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Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Good Wednesday morning! Eighteen Oklahoma high schools made it into top tiers of U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of the country’s best high schools, reports the Tulsa World

But first, following a report by The Oklahoman in 2016 about the legacy of closed Oklahoma City schools being sold to the highest bidder and the damage done to neighborhoods like John F. Kennedy, a discussion started between Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, recently reported The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer

“We heard loud and clear from our community that the district has not been a good neighbor in the past,” said acting Superintendent Rebecca Kaye. 

The talks resulted in an agreement earlier this year between the city trust and the school board that gives Urban Renewal the task of finding qualified buyers for Columbus Elementary, 2401 S Pennsylvania Ave., closed in 2014, and the former Oklahoma City Public Schools administration building, 900 N Klein, closed last year.

Cathy O'Connor, director of the Urban Renewal Authority, hopes the new partnership will result in success stories like Page Woodson. The large high school in John F. Kennedy neighborhood was closed and blighted for more than 20 years before the school board entered into what was then an unprecedented agreement to put the deal under the authority of Urban Renewal.

Federal lawsuit filed against Perry schools

School district officials in Perry are accused in a new federal lawsuit of shielding a sexual predator and branding children as liars when they accused an ex-teacher's aide of molestation. The lawsuit was filed Monday in Oklahoma City by the parents of a girl molested by aide Arnold Cowen. It accuses Perry Public Schools of hiding abuse by Cowen from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, police and parents.

Schools rely on aides during teacher shortage

An Oklahoma Watch analysis of eight years of data and interviews with school district officials revealed that the statewide teacher shortage is forcing public schools to lean more on classroom helpers. Some of the state’s larger urban and suburban districts, in particular, are hiring aides and assistants, instead of hard-to-find and more expensive teachers.

Aides and assistants’ jobs include many of the tasks teachers used to do but are less able to now because of increasing class sizes and more pre-K and special-education students, education officials say.

Town hall at Yukon High will examine lessons from Columbine tragedy

The Yu-Can Coalition and the Yukon Public Schools Drug and Alcohol Task Force will present “Working Together for the Success of the Next Generation: Learning from the Experience of Columbine,” at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Yukon High School, 1777 S Yukon Parkway, Yukon.

The town hall meeting will feature speaker Frank DeAngelis, former Columbine High School principal. DeAngelis will share his insights on managing the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine tragedy during which 12 students and one teacher were killed.

Here are all of the Oklahoma schools that made the U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of the country’s best high schools, in ranked order: 

• Harding Charter Preparatory School (OKC)

• Dove Science Academy (OKC)

• Classen High School of Advanced Studies (OKC)

• Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa)

• Harding Fine Arts Academy (OKC)

• Edmond North High School

• Edison Preparatory High School (Tulsa)

• Memorial High School (Edmond)

• Norman High School

• Santa Fe High School (Edmond)

• Southeast High School (OKC)

• Deer Creek High School

• Bartlesville High School

• Westmoore High School (Moore)

• Dove Science Academy (Tulsa)

• Bixby High School

• Carl Albert High School (Midwest City)

• Pauls Valley High School

That's all for today's Morning Bell. Got a question, story idea or comment? Reach me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

Related Photos
Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018.  Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-18e6cdf1daf16c5f62b87dfbc9db6c50.jpg" alt="Photo - Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman" title="Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Columbus Elementary School, 2401 S. Pennsylvania. Photo taken Thursday, May 3, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, 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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