WALKOUT

Sara Willis holds a sign outside the football stadium at Bartlesville High School as students take part in a walkout to protest state budget cuts to education Friday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

BARTLESVILLE — As the Oklahoma Education Association upped its asks of the Oklahoma Legislature to end a teacher walkout, school districts continued to evaluate how long they want schools to be closed and what their endgame looks like.

Several local districts have cancelled school for next Monday in what will be the second week of the walkout. While many school boards and administrators continue to show support for their teachers, districts now face lengthened school years and missing state testing because of the walkout.

Other local districts are also considering what to do. Broken Arrow Public Schools surveyed teachers Thursday and Friday and found a majority favor continuing the walkout in some capacity but that more than 20 percent wanted to be back in school Monday.

The Tulsa School Board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday to re-evaluate how long it wants to be out of school.

"This is an unprecedented situation for all of us - there is no guidebook for a teacher walk-out, and we are continuing to take it day by day," said TPS spokeswoman Emma Garrett Nelson in a text message. "As the walkout extends into a second week, the board felt that it was appropriate to create an opportunity to come together and check-in."

The Bartlesville School Board met Friday evening in a packed auditorium at Bartlesville High School. The board did nothing to change Superintendent Chuck McCauley's ability to keep school closed for 10 days, which would expire at the end of next week.

The meeting turned into a referendum on the walkout, and the Bartlesville Education Association, the local teachers union, outlined its stopping point.

Rachel Hough, BEA's chief negotiator, said that if Gov. Mary Fallin would veto the bill that repealed a $5 hotel motel tax passed just weeks ago, Bartlesville educators would be willing to return to the classroom.

Fallin has given no indication that she would veto any of the bills passed Friday.

Bartlesville, which led the charge toward the walkout, has a different stance than the OEA.

"The takeaway is, regardless of what the OEA says, if we get that funding, Bartlesville is back in school," said McCauley.

McCauley described the Bartlesville ask, known as the 50:50 plan, as $100 million in common education funding.

With the passage of two bills Friday, that ask was almost met. However, that could change when, and if, Fallin signs the hotel motel repeal. Board members and McCauley repeatedly told the hundreds of attendees to contact the governor's office and request the veto.

Residents seemed mostly in support of the walkout, save for a few.

Jeffrey Romines said he supported the teachers but not their methods and some of the means that will increase funding, such as the ball and dice bill.

"It's not just a positive $28 million," he said.

There was discussion of the impact on businesses if the walkout continues. Being out longer than a week begins to hurt businesses, said Erin Rogers, and puts them at risk of losing thousands in revenue.

Others said the walkout is a nuisance that the community needs to endure for the broader good.

"I really don't give a rip if you're not going to be able to go to Disney World," said William Bixler.

As an independent oil and gas producer, Bixler said he wasn't enamored with the increased gross production tax that will fund the teacher pay raise passed a few weeks ago.

"If that's what I'm going to have to do, I'll do it," said Bixler.

"Is it going to be disruptive for a lot of people? Yes" said Larry Miller. "But is it worth it? Yes."

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​Harrison Grimwood

918-581-8369

harrison.grimwood@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @grimwood_hmg

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