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Community volunteers planning assistance during possible suspension of schools

posted Mar 8, 2018, 9:34 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Mar 16, 2018, 5:17 AM ]
March 8, 2018 Press Release from Public Education Advocates for Kids

A 20-member volunteer committee of community representatives and education advocates met Wednesday night to begin preparing for a possible school suspension beginning April 2.  

One of the concerns of the group is to make sure that students are provided with meals normally furnished during school, and that any child not able to stay at home is provided a safe environment with supervised activities.

The meeting of the Bartlesville Communitywide Steering Committee was held just hours after an announcement by the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) that teachers state-wide would walk out on April 2 unless the state legislature passes a meaningful revenue plan. Such a plan would have to include substantial teacher raises and improved funding for public education.

“We hope a suspension of school and a teacher walkout never happens,” said Dan Droege, a founder of Public Education Advocates for Kids (PEAK), the Bartlesville-based organization that convened the meeting.

“But it’s become obvious that the legislature is not listening to students, teachers or parents,” he said, “If a statewide walkout is what it takes to make them act, then we need to be ready for it as a community.”

At Wednesday night’s meeting at the Bartlesville Public Library, the Steering Committee discussed a plan for providing both breakfast and lunches to students at school sites if a shutdown occurs. The details of the food plan will be announced in adequate time for parents to prepare.

In addition, several local churches have stepped forward with offers of help, including supervising children’s activities, providing facilities and furnishing volunteers, in the event of a shutdown. Other churches, along with local youth organizations, are being contacted to determine how their resources could be used to benefit out-of-school kids.

The committee also heard offers of assistance, including volunteer help, from a representative of the leadership team of Bartlesville High School students that led the recent 22-minute student walkout.

Arrangements are being made so residents will be able to offer financial aid for both child needs and teacher support. Specifics on the arrangement, including online giving, will be announced shortly.

Several Steering Committee members will travel to Oklahoma City next week to meet with the leadership of the OEA to discuss how to help coordinate local and Oklahoma City marches and rallies, as well as assist other districts in preparing for possible suspensions.

Members of the Steering Committee and their respective areas of involvement are:

  • Granger Meador, Communications, Bartlesville Public Schools
  • Heather Boyle and Gail Stone, Bartlesville Education Association
  • Blair Ellis, Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation
  • Dan Droege, Public Education Advocates for Kids (PEAK)
  • Chloe Maye, BHS High School students
  • Alison Clark, Bartlesville Board of Education
  • Vanessa Drummond, all school Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs)
    • Archana Sapre, Middle schools & BHS PTOs
    • Cindy Wray, elementary school PTOs
  • Jason Elmore, churches through Bartlesville Ministerial Association
  • Stephen Walden, BHS teacher coordinating youth activity resources
  • Jon Beckloff, Manager of Child Nutrition for BPSD
  • Representative from Young Professionals of Bartlesville
  • Sara Freeman, Bartlesville business/professional community
  • Michele Cannon, Washington Co. Retired Educators Assoc.
  • Joe Williams, march/rally/event coordination & liaison

PEAK members Keri Bostwick, Becky Olsen, George Halkiades, and Tom Droege also are providing support for the committee.

Besides providing assistance for students in the event of a shutdown, the committee will also offer assistance and consultation to school administration, including communication and logistics for any statewide demonstration that takes place locally or in Oklahoma City.

The group will meet at least weekly until the public education crisis is resolved. Updates on the committee’s progress can be received on the PEAK Facebook page or signing up for the PEAK Gmail newsletter.

MARCH 16, 2018 UPDATE:

The Bartlesville Board of Education has joined many others across the state in authorizing the Superintendent to close schools if a teacher walkout begins on Monday, April 2. The local authorization is for up to 10 days.

A scheduling plan has been developed for students and staff for the initial 5 days of a walkout, and a Bartlesville Community-Wide Steering Committee is working to marshal community resources to assist students, parents, and teachers during a suspension should one occur.