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Bartlesville schools will reopen on Thursday, 4/12

posted Apr 10, 2018, 10:46 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 10, 2018, 11:24 PM ]

The leadership of the Bartlesville Education Association (BEA) has announced it will conclude its teacher walkout so that classes can resume on Thursday, April 12. The district will continue to send a contingent of teachers, selected by the BEA, to work at the Capitol on plans to further increase schools’ operational funding. Community supporters plan to join in as part of the Bartlesville group at the Capitol on Thursday.

BEA President Heather Boyle stated, “Our community, our teachers, our parents, our board, and our administration have made me incredibly proud! I could not be happier with the progress we have made in our fight for funding. We still have a long way to go, and we must continue to advocate for public education in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. On Thursday, Bartlesville teachers will return to our classrooms. I will continue to bring a contingent to the Capitol to fight and advocate for our students and for public education.”

Chuck McCauley, Bartlesville’s Superintendent of Schools, said, “We are ready to be back in school. I appreciate the leadership of the BEA and all our teachers for the incredible progress they have made possible on behalf of our students. Our community has been steadfast in its support for its schools, and we look forward to continuing the momentum on behalf of our students. An important first step begins tomorrow as candidates file for seats in House districts 10 and 11, leading up to the June 26 primary.”

State-mandated student testing was scheduled to begin in early April. The State Superintendent has extended the testing window by a week, so schools will be looking to help some students prepare this week before they begin testing next week. An ACT test all the juniors at Bartlesville High School would have taken on April 3 has been rescheduled to April 24.

The eight-day suspension means that the district’s elementary and middle school students are scheduled to have their final day of class on Wednesday, May 30. Bartlesville High School students are scheduled to have their final day of class on Thursday, May 31. Commencement for graduating seniors will still be on Friday, May 25. After the schools reopen, the administration will begin examining when final exams might be conducted and how to best address student and parent concerns about family plans, student jobs, and other scheduled events after Memorial Day.

The district’s classes were suspended on Monday, April 2 as part of a statewide teacher walkout. Governor Fallin had signed into law $480 million in additional spending for public schools on March 29, under pressure from the impending walkout. The package the state adopted emerged from the Time Is Now plan which Bartlesville Schools had promoted in March as a potential solution to the immediate school funding crisis and teacher shortage. The state’s final package included significant teacher and school support employee pay raises as well as raises for state workers. But legislative deal-making threatened to repeal $50 million in new revenue from a lodging fee, and the final appropriation of only $17 million in unrestricted formula dollars for school operations was less than the $22 million cut the state imposed in February. So, teachers across the state, including in Bartlesville itself, walked out.

During the first week of the walkout, the BEA began promoting a plan to address the potential loss of lodging fee revenue and to boost funding for school operations. Last week the legislature sent to Governor Fallin HB 1019xx, which would provide about $20 million for future school funding by taxing third-party online sales. It also sent to the Governor HB 3375, which would provide over $20 million for future school funding via ball and dice gaming in the state.

Knowing that the Governor may sign HB 1012xx to repeal $50 million in projected lodging fee revenues, Bartlesville teachers have been promoting other sources of revenue as potential replacements. They have focused on a possible wind energy production tax or a capping of existing wind energy credits. Such measures are progressing through the legislature, and a contingent of Bartlesville teachers will be returning regularly to the Capitol to promote them in hopes of re-opening the educational appropriation so that school operational funding might be increased for 2018-2019.

The district is deeply appreciative of the broad community support displayed throughout the teacher walkout. A community-wide steering committee under the leadership of the local Public Education Advocates for Kids (PEAK) group helped connect parents and students with community resources. Over 4,000 free meals were provided in the first six days of the walkout by the district’s Child Nutrition department, and that program will operate for an eighth and final day on Wednesday at the Jane Phillips, Richard Kane, and Hoover Elementary Schools. At the former Oak Park School, the Bartlesville Salvation Army provided its mobile kitchen to allow Sodexo to provide 1,275 meals during the first six days of the walkout. Those meals will also continue until schools reopen on Thursday. The First Presbyterian Church has also been providing sack lunches at Ranch Heights Elementary School.

Local programs such as the YMCA’s Elementary School Age Care, Boys & Girls Club of Bartlesville, The Rock, and various churches stepped up to provide daycare and youth programs throughout the walkout. Many community volunteers assisted with these and other support programs, including facilitating tutoring for students taking Advanced Placement tests in May. Donations poured in to support funds at PeakOK.org to offset costs for student meals and supervision. PEAK also sponsored a separate fund to cover the mileage and driver costs to send buses of teachers to Oklahoma City each day and otherwise support teachers during the walkout. This included refreshments and supplies for teachers at a Hospitality Center at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

The PEAK group is planning to conduct a welcome back event for the teachers on Friday, April 13 at 4:15 p.m. in the Commons at Bartlesville High School, to congratulate them on their progress in securing additional school funding. The group remains committed to a long-term pursuit of additional operational funding for schools to address large class sizes, lost electives, and limited instructional supplies which will not be addressed by the increases in school employee salaries next school year.

4/12 Resumption

Heather Boyle, BEA President

Heather Boyle
“Our community, our teachers, our parents, our board, and our administration have made me incredibly proud! I could not be happier with the progress we have made in our fight for funding. We still have a long way to go, and we must continue to advocate for public education in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. On Thursday, Bartlesville teachers will return to our classrooms. I will continue to bring a contingent to the Capitol to fight and advocate for our students and for public education."

Chuck McCauley, BPS Superintendent

Chuck McCauley
“We are ready to be back in school. I appreciate the leadership of the BEA and all our teachers for the incredible progress they have made possible on behalf of our students. Our community has been steadfast in its support for its schools, and we look forward to continuing the momentum on behalf of our students. An important first step begins tomorrow as candidates file for seats in House districts 10 and 11, leading up to the June 26 primary.”

Scott Bilger, President, Bartlesville Board of Education

"Thank you to the administration of the BPS and the BEA for once again leading the way in the effort to alter the future of Oklahoma schools. First and foremost, to the teachers and the staff at Bartlesville Public Schools: Thank you for your efforts in balancing the future of our public school system with the well-being of our students of today.
Second, this has always been viewed by the Bartlesville Public School administration and board as a multi-year effort. We did not get here in one year. An expectation to fully resolve the issue is either unrealistic in its objective or not lofty enough in its goal. That being said, we are not done with the fight this year. BPS will be sending a delegation of teachers and would invite any community members to continue to make their presence known at the State Capitol.
Finally, BPS will soon be issuing a go-forward plan for school funding. We will share this with media, with other districts across the state, and with individuals who will be filing this week as candidates in the November elections. We hope that it will be discussed, possibly revised, and adopted as a go-forward statement for districts across the state as a minimum expectation for school funding increases in future years."