Morning Bell: Edmondson, Stitt talk education at debate
Good Tuesday morning!
TODAY: I'm still in Las Vegas for the second day of the Education Writer Association's higher education conference. I tweeted tidbits yesterday, and will continue today.
Edmondson and Stitt hold first debate
The Oklahoman hosted a gubernatorial debate Monday evening between Republican Kevin Stitt and Democrat Drew Edmondson, who were both asked several questions about the state's public school system and attracting new teachers.
Stitt did not support a series of tax increases approved this year to fund a teacher pay raise and said on Monday, "I wasn't governor when that happened, we would have never been in that situation had I been governor."
However, even with the recent teacher pay raise, Stitt said another pay increase would be a budget priority for him in 2019.
Edmondson has proposed more funding for public schools, including an increase in the gross production tax to 7 percent. He said he believes there might be enough new lawmakers in the spring to approve such an increase, but it could be brought to a vote of the people.
Edmondson also said he wanted to do more than just increase teacher pay.
"If you think it's just about salaries then you weren't listening to teachers at the Capitol [during the walkout]," Edmondson said."
Education funding could be changing
Oklahoma is moving closer to changing the way it funds schools after a yearlong look at the education funding formula by a group of lawmakers and educators, reports Oklahoma Watch.
The group’s proposed tweaks include a greater emphasis on low-income students, a revised definition of English language learners and fewer categories of students based on grade level.
The task force, led by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, concluded its work Monday. The group’s final recommendations will next be sent to the governor and Senate pro tempore.
Caldwell appointed to SEB
State Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, recently was appointed to the Southern Regional Education Board, reports the Enid News & Eagle.
Created in 1948, the Atlanta-based board was created by "governors and legislators who recognized the link between education and economic vitality," and its one of the country's oldest forums involving educational legislative issues.
Tahlequah schools works to increase security
The Oklahoma School Security Institute, which performs walk-throughs at schools looking for security problems, recently worked with Tahlequah Public Schools, and this year the district added two officers to have one in every school. School resource officers told KJRH news, creating relationships is key in catching these threats.
"What we've tried to do is be proactive instead of wait until something happens. We want to try to get ahead of something happening so we don't have to react," Officer Marcus Sams said.
Tahlequah Public Schools staff said the little things can make a big difference, such as number windows and doors, helping first responders to know where they're going.
"It does seem crazy. I've been in the school business for about 35 years and a lot has changed in 35 years. But if you don't you're behind and if you don't you're not safe," director of operations Randy Underwood said.
Hartshorne dedicates Spahn statue
Hartshorne Public Schools hosted a dedication ceremony Saturday for a 9-feet tall statue of Hall-of-Fame pitcher Warren Spahn that now rests in front of the school's new state-of-the-art event center and storm shelter, reports the McAlester News-Capital. Spahn was born in Buffalo, New York, before going on to earn a Purple Heart for his military service and a Hall of Fame career as a left-handed MLB pitcher. He died in 2003 at his home in Broken Arrow, but owned a ranch and was buried in Hartshorne.
That does it for today's Morning Bell. Got a question, comment or story idea? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.