The Oklahoma City Public Schools administration sent emails Wednesday night to parents of the 46,000 students about how they will support fully support a teacher walkout and care for students.
The Board of Education approved a resolution March 5 to support a teacher walkout over school funding if one occurred.
The parent communication, now up on its own page on the district website, laid out the reasoning for the support:
“We support our teachers in this because our state has cut the funding we need to serve our children by over 28% in the last decade, far more than any other state in the nation. Our students deserve better.”
If there is a walkout, the district plans to suspend classes and “completely close” all of its schools and stay closed until an agreement is reached and teachers are ready to return to classes.
So far, the biggest worry is about students from poverty situations that depend upon their school for basic well-being.
Since the district is now providing free and reduced lunches to all students, a sizeable number of those students who depend upon their school for basic nutrition needs would be in a difficult situation.
Because of that reality, the email assures parents that the district would continue to provide food for students.
“Although our buildings will be completely closed to students during a walkout, OKCPS will provide grab-and-go box lunches throughout the district using school buses,” the email read.
“A comprehensive plan for the daily lunch pick-up locations will be shared with families when we return from Spring Break.”
Local faith-based groups and other partners are coordinating plans for providing places for stranded students to go during what would be a normal school day.
The communication also assured parents of students in career tech, seniors and athletics that plans are being made for accommodating those time-sensitive needs.
The communication addressed some of the problems with students missing a number of class days so close to the end of the school year.
Parents were told that the district’s 2017-2018 calendar had six more days scheduled than they were legally required to hold class.
Two of those days have been used for inclement weather, leaving only 4 days that would not have to be made up at the end of the regular schedule.
If the walkout lasts longer than that, days will have to be added at the end of the scheduled year to make up days missed.
Board Chair Paula Lewis is quoted in the parent email:
Teachers have reiterated that their goal is not a teacher walkout; their goal is a teacher pay raise and adequate funding for public education. They are not walking out on OKCPS or our students, they are walking out FOR our students. The OKCPS Board of Education and district leadership remain committed to supporting our teachers until lawmakers find a solution.
Negotiations between the Oklahoma Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and the Oklahoma Legislature are underway.