In The Know: Education Department requests $441 million increase; Senate Republicans want to end 4-day school weeks…

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

State Department of Education asks Oklahoma lawmakers for $3.4B: The Oklahoma State Department of Education told lawmakers Tuesday it needs $3.4 billion for fiscal year 2020, a nearly $441 million increase. A $480 million boost from special-session legislation last year largely went toward a teacher pay raise averaging $6,100. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told lawmakers she’s grateful for that, but Oklahoma has more work to do to improve its public schools. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Senate Republicans want to end four-day school weeks: Senate Republicans want to end the practice of four-day school weeks, which are currently used by nearly 100 districts across Oklahoma. “If the school can show there is an economic savings and there is no adverse impact on student achievement there will be reasonable exceptions in the bill,” Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said. “Otherwise, five-day school weeks will be restored.” [NewsOK] Oklahoma Senate Republicans release legislative agenda, temper budget expectations. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Not just teachers: Lawmakers want to consider education policy, too: Educators are going into the legislative session that begins Monday looking for more money. Lawmakers, though, may be more inclined to first look closer at the money already allocated to schools. More than 160 bills and joint resolutions with substantive language related to common education were prefiled for this session. [Tulsa World]

Wary of teacher walkouts, states aim to boost school spending: Spurred by teacher strikes and a sense of crisis, Colorado’s new governor is one of 33 newly elected leaders of states and territories who campaigned on improving education funding. In many states, both Republicans and Democrats agree that schools need more money and teachers need better pay. [Stateline]

Bill would give charter schools larger piece of funding formula: A Tulsa lawmaker said it’s time for the Legislature to help public charter schools pay for their buildings and upkeep. State Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, has filed a controversial piece of legislation that would adjust the state’s funding formula to help the schools afford the currently uncompensated expense. [CHNI]

Oklahoma County jail has decades-long history of problems: For decades, Oklahoma County commissioners have struggled to come up with a solution. But with two of the three current board members having been on the job for less than a month, commissioners are again considering options for how to address the problem. At least one commissioner doesn’t think the aging structure is salvageable. [NewsOK 🔒]

New Oklahoma governor adds digital transformation secretary: For the better part of a decade, Oklahoma has been trying to wrangle its agencies to unify their technology operations. And they’ve made a lot of progress. The new governor, Kevin Stitt, wants to step it up a notch. So he’s appointed David Ostrowe, a long-time entrepreneur, as the state’s “secretary of digital transformation and administration.” [Government Technology] Kevin Stitt is adding to his team. Meet the governor’s staff. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma transparency office proposed in Senate bill:  A state Senate leader has proposed the creation of an office to provide additional oversight of state agency spending and performance. Senate Bill 1, filed by President Pro Tem-elect Greg Treat on Thursday, creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), which would conduct performance evaluations of agencies. [NewsOK]

Senator seeks to protect small poultry operations in Oklahoma: While Oklahoma’s poultry industry has been under fire in recent months for an attempted expansion in the eastern part of the state, one state legislator has filed legislation to protect the industry. Residents and environmentalists protested the proposed increase of more poultry farms, claiming it would lead to more environmental damage to the Illinois River and other waterways. [OK Energy Today]

Beer sales up with new laws, but some liquor stores hurt: Oklahoma beer makers say they are seeing the benefits of the state’s looser laws on alcohol, but some liquor stores say their business has been hurt. The Oklahoma Beer Alliance says some of its members have seen double-digit sales growth since a voter-approved overhaul of state liquor laws went into effect in October. [AP News]

‘A real need for these kids’: Program helps teens in DHS care buy their first cars: It is not easy being 18 years old and facing the world without a car. “At that age, it is really hard to get started in life if you don’t have transportation,” said Sheree Powell, of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. “This is a creative way to help these kids get something absolutely essential to success.” [Tulsa World]

This is what an elementary school counselor does: Throughout my seven years as an elementary school counselor, I have often been asked “what does a school counselor at an elementary school do?” The role of the school counselor is often misunderstood because it is unique. At the forefront of everything that a school counselor does is relationship. [Forbes]

‘The Invisibles,’ A video series: In this video series, titled “The Invisibles,” Oklahoma Watch profiles individuals whose quiet struggles in life reflect some of the larger issues facing the state. The series is made possible by a sponsorship from the Chickasaw Nation. [Oklahoma Watch]

‘We’ve got to catch up’: TU President Gerard Clancy urges medical marijuana research, education: Tulsa-area medical leaders, aware of the growing use of cannabis following legalization for medical purposes, hosted a series of researchers on Thursday for a conference at the University of Tulsa about marijuana research. [Tulsa World]

‘We know how to survive,’ but U.S. shutdown cuts deep for Native Americans: The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma used a GoFundMe page and its own money to feed its many members who were furloughed or worked without pay during the U.S. government shutdown. [Reuters]

Efforts to restore Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s independent press fail: Another attempt to reinstate the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s independent press act came up short Saturday morning. Despite having the support of a simple majority in the Muscogee (Creek) National Council, a vote at the council’s regularly scheduled January meeting to override Principal Chief James Floyd’s veto of NCA 18-184 failed to reach the two-thirds threshold required. [Journal Record]

Upcoming event teaches impact of traumatic childhood experiences: Project A.W.A.R.E. leaders are putting together the first of many community programs to teach about the impact of traumatic childhood experiences. Award-winning Author Alton Carter is coming to Woodward Tuesday, Feb. 5, for a free community talk about overcoming adverse childhood experiences beginning at 6 p.m. in the Woodward High School Auditorium. [CHNI]

University of Tulsa takes lead in Cyber District vision: University of Tulsa President Dr. Gerry Clancy sees a distinct parallel between a TU-led Cyber District and the university’s link to emerging oil about a century ago. … The crux of the proposal is the creation of a Tulsa Enterprise for Cyber Innovation, Talent and Entrepreneurship, which will allow industry, federal agencies and TU to work together to defend information systems. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“At that age, it is really hard to get started in life if you don’t have transportation. This is a creative way to help these kids get something absolutely essential to success.”

-Sheree Powell, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, speaking about a program by the Sand Springs Children’s Home to provide matching dollars for residents to buy their first car [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

63.3%

Percentage of Oklahoma households that have a savings account, 46th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

[Source: Prosperity Now]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Millions of College Students Are Going Hungry: The blight of food insecurity among college students is real, and a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, highlights the breadth of those affected. There are potentially millions of students at risk of being food insecure, which means they do not have access to nutritious, affordable food, the report says. It is the first time the federal government has acknowledged food insecurity on campus in a significant way. The federal government spends billions of dollars on higher education each year, and this report finds that some students are at risk of dropping out because they cannot eat, although there aren’t good data on just how many. [The Atlantic]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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