On March 9, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) released information to the public calling for a teacher walkout and school closures which are scheduled to begin Monday, April 2. Along with a list of conditions, OEA is asking the legislature to specifically address teacher pay raises and increases in school funding.
“At this point, a walkout is inevitable if an adequate teacher pay raise plan is not approved before April 2,” said Edmond Superintendent Bret Towne. “A survey of all Edmond teachers has been sent out. At this time, 1,261 teachers have responded, and almost 87.5 percent indicate that they will not be in school on April 2. This number of staff who will not be in school that day is large enough that the district cannot cover absences with substitutes.
On March 12 Towne said the following at a special board meeting.
“This week I have personally received around 200 emails supporting the teachers in their pursuit of a state salary increase,” Towne said. “The superintendent’s office has received over 900 phone calls supporting teacher pay raises and supporting teacher’s efforts to receive pay increases and 14 calls not supporting a teacher pay raise.”
Since that time, at various meetings taking place before spring break, Towne has continued to share with patrons and students updated information about the number of phone calls and emails he has received both in support of and against a possible teacher walkout.
“Prior to spring break, those numbers stood at 1,500 calls and emails for the walkout and 15 against,” said Edmond Public Schools spokesperson Susan Parks-Schlepp.
Below is an update on student testing and plans to feed students.
Every school district is required to test all students as directed by the state and federal governments. This includes testing during the set testing window.
“We have multiple plans in place to make sure students are tested as required. Every plan is contingent upon when school resumes,” Towne said.
3rd-5th Grade Tests — Third through 5th grade window is April 2-20.
“Because the elementary tests are pencil paper, we can test multiple grades or even all students on the same day,” Towne said. “The hardest part is finding enough monitors for each test administered. We may need many extra volunteers to help make elementary testing happen.”
6th-8th Grade Tests — The 6th-8th grade testing window is April 2-26.
“Middle school tests are administered online,” Towne said. “If our testing window is greatly shortened, we may need to bus students to the high schools and test in the gyms where 150 students at a time can test on computers.”
ACT & 11th Grade Tests — The ACT is the test Edmond uses for high school state testing. It is required for all 11th grade students. The ACT is online and scheduled for April 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12.
“There is a makeup date on April 24 which is a pencil and paper test. If a walkout occurs, ACT testing will occur as scheduled. The students know which day they are scheduled to test, and we would have enough administrators and support personnel to administer these tests,” Towne said. “The 11th grade science test window is April 2-26. Currently schools have this scheduled around the ACT testing dates. The 11th grade history test can be taken in class at any time.”
Advanced Placement Tests — AP testing begins the first week in May. Towne said no plan is in place as of yet.
“Principals, teachers and district administrators are discussing how to work through these testing issues that should be required,” Towne said. “Teachers may hold study sessions or send study work home for students to continue preparing for these tests; no grades will be taken during the walkout and the walkout should not affect a student’s grades.”
Edmond Public Schools plans to continue feeding students who need breakfast and lunch at several schools around the district. This would be for any and all students who are currently receiving meals through Edmond’s Child Nutrition program as well as anyone between the ages of one and 18 who shows up at a feeding site.
“Although regular bus routes will not be run, transportation will be provided from all schools to and from the designated cafeterias on a daily schedule,” Towne said. “If possible, Edmond will continue providing the weekend backpack food program at the schools using volunteers and school staff.”