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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 26, 2018, 8:45 AM ]
PEAK
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.

3/19 Update: Residents can offer financial aid for both child needs and teacher support, via a $20,000 matching grant. Details and links are at PeakOK.org. 

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
  • Troy Martin, Young Professionals of Bartlesville
  • Sara Freeman, Truity Credit Union
  • Liz Merciez, Bartlesville Regional United Way
  • Gina Elias, Building Bridges of Bartlesville
  • 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 26, 2018 UPDATE: SCHOOL SUSPENSION AUTHORIZED, PARENT GUIDE RELEASED

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.

MARCH 19, 2018 UPDATE: MATCHING GRANT TO SUPPORT CHILDREN'S AND TEACHERS' NEEDS DURING A SUSPENSION

A group of Bartlesville education advocates has stepped forward with dollar-for-dollar challenge grants totaling more than $20,000 to help support childcare needs and teacher actions should Bartlesville school shut down on April 2.

The challenge means every dollar contributed by citizens to support children’s and teachers’ needs during the possible school suspension will be matched by contributors who have already pledged their support, with the goal of raising at least a total of $40,000.

“We are incredibly grateful for these early contributors, who in the space of 24 hours have come forward to support our kids and our teachers,” said Dan Droege, a member of the Community-Wide Steering Committee that is coordinating local resources in the event of a school shutdown.

“These advocates for public education have challenged us all to do our part to help make sure every child has a safe place and meals to eat while schools are closed and that our teachers have the financial support to stand up for our students locally and at the state capitol,” he said.

Contributors will have every dollar matched by donating to one of two funds or splitting their support between both funds:

·         Education Support Fund – Contributions through this fund, based at the Bartlesville Community Foundation (BCF), will go toward supporting community resources such as the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA and other organizations that are taking on extra trained staff and additional costs in order provide full-day youth supervision and meals in the event of a school shutdown. Donations also will support tutoring for BHS students preparing for key tests next month.

·         Teacher Support Fund – Contributions through this fund, overseen by the Public Education Advocates for Kids (PEAK), will go toward defraying the cost of transportation for teachers to events in Oklahoma City during the suspension period, for local rallies and for banners, signs and educational materials.

Donations can be made online to both funds, with contributions to the Education Support Fund being tax deductible. 

Online contributions to help with child needs can be made at the BCF website, bartlesvillecf.org, by clicking on Donate and selecting Education Support Fund or via this direct link.

Written check donations for children’s needs should be made out to the Bartlesville Community Foundation with the notation: “Education Support Fund” and mailed to BCF, 208 E. Fourth St., Bartlesville, OK, 74003.   

Online donations to support teachers can be made through the homepage of the PEAK website, PEAKOK.org, by clicking on “Teacher Support Fund.” Contributions to support teachers are not tax-deductible.

Check donations to support teacher needs should be made out to PEAK-Teacher Support and sent to PEAK, attention George Halkiades, treasurer, 1211 SE Guinn Ln, BartlesvilleOK, 74006.

“Make no mistake about – Oklahoma is moving rapidly toward a pivotal moment in public education, and the whole country is watching,” said Droege. “Bartlesville has taken the lead in pressuring the state legislature to act. We must make sure we are ready with enough resources locally to support what needs to be done.”

The allocation of money from both funds will be handled through an application process managed by the finance subcommittee of the Bartlesville Community-Wide Steering Committee.

The steering committee is the official coordinating network of school administrators, teachers, PTOs, churches, nonprofits and other organizations and resources that has been convened to assist parents and teachers in the event of a school suspension.

If the suspension and walkout don’t occur, the remainder of both funds will be contributed to the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation, which since 1985 has provided grants to outstanding teachers and innovative programs in local schools.