With a unanimous vote - with one member absent - the Grove Public Schools Board of Education became the latest in Delaware County and the state, to endorse a potential teacher walk-out.
The resolution, which appeared on the Tuesday, March 13 agenda, gives Grove Superintendent Sandy Coaly permission to close all district schools for up to 25 school days, "provided that such days must be made up if required by law."
The closure is also limited with the perimeter that the "teacher 'walkout'" must be "scheduled by teacher groups or organizations" and if Coaly determines "that such school closures are necessary for the safety of students for the fiscal integrity of the District in order to avoid the necessity of hiring substitute teachers."
The resolution comes after similar measures were approved by the Jay Public Schools Board of Education during a meeting on Thursday, March 8.
As of press time, superintendents across the county were making plans for the April 2 walkout, proposed by officials Oklahoma Education Association and others, and for the days following.
As of Thursday, only Coaly had defined the possible walkout with a 25-day limit. She gave that wording to the board, she said, upon the advice of the school's attorney.
"There are many unknowns," Coaly said, knowing parents are asking questions about all of the "what if's" surrounding the walkout.
"There's no magic number," Coaly said, saying missed days will be added to the calendar, moving the last day of school potentially into June. "We could go to school until it's time to start next year. But that sure isn't what we what to do.
"Twenty five days should cover it, because the legislature is out of session by the end of May. We just hope [the legislature] gets things together, so it won't come to this."
Across the county
Jay's resolution, like may being considered across the state, says the school board is "in full support" of its teachers and "stands ready to take any steps necessary to improve conditions for our teachers - including a district wide suspension of classes."
Jay Superintendent Kenneth Bridges said he asked the board to consider the measure, because it's time for the legislators to act.
"Teachers need raises and public education needs funding," Bridges said. "We're ranked the lowest national [for education] and it's getting worse. We're tired of the disrespect, and ready to be recognized for the kind of work we do."
Bridges said the movement behind the proposed walkout and raises are driven by teachers across the state.
"The administration and school board supports what the teachers do," Bridges said, adding that the school may shut down, if that is what teachers choose to do. "I support my teachers. I'm tired of teachers being treated like second tier professionals."
On Thursday, multiple Jay teachers began following the "work the contract" movement, which encourages teachers to only work the hours and duties specified in their contracts.
Tamyra Larson, superintendent of Turkey Ford Schools, said she did a poll of her teachers and support staff, offering them three potential options.
She said unanimously, the school's teachers and staff, voted to send a representative to Oklahoma City on April 2, to talk with legislators about the issue.
Larson anticipates going to the capitol with at least one or more teachers. Who goes will be determined after spring break.
"We want to encourage action," Larson said. "We know something needs to be done."
However, the school's personnel also voted to keep the doors open of the small pre-K-6th grade campus in rural Wyandotte out of concern of the students.
Larson said teachers and staff wanted to give the 111 students who call Turkey Ford their educational home stability, even while supporting the call to action.
"Many would be left at home alone, because our parents need to continue to work," Larson said. "Many have limited options for childcare. Plus we don't want to cheat [the students] out of their education."
Members of the board of education for Turkey Ford - which is in the Grove Public School Transportation District - were scheduled to address the plan officially on Thursday afternoon. Results of the meeting were unavailable as of press time.
Cleora Superintendent Kenny Guthrie said his staff begin planning for a possible walkout during meetings at the end of February.
"At the time, nothing had caught fire, but there was a potential [action looming]," Guthrie said.
On March 1, he discussed the issue with his school board, who pledged to support the teachers and support staff.
He anticipates his board will adopt a resolution, similar to those passed by other districts, formally endorsing the teachers and their plan.
Guthrie said he informed district patrons using an all-call method on Thursday, of his plans to shut down the campus on April 2.
"We're going to go to the state capitol to show solidarity with the rest of the state," Guthrie said, saying he expects several members of his team will travel to the capitol.
On April 3, and the days following, Guthrie said he plans to take the walkout on a "day to day" basis.
He said at this time, his teachers have indicated they plan to "do what is necessary to get the message sent" to legislators, without shutting down school.
"There are too many unknowns," Guthrie said. "I tell my teachers I am 'cautiously supportive.'
"Our teachers want to fight for funding and a raise, but they also want to be there for the students."
Guthrie anticipates sending representatives to the capitol, on an as needed basis, in the days following the April 2 walkout.
"I don't know anyone who is looking forward to this or is excited about a walk out," Guthrie said.
Cleora Schools, which sits on Highway 85 in the northwest corner of the county between Bernice and Ketchum, currently has 131 pre-K to eighth grade students.
Southern DelCo Districts
Kenwood Superintendent Billy Taylor said his teachers and staff support the efforts for increased educational funding.
However, as of Thursday, Taylor said, his staff planned to continue working - in order to meet the needs of the 82 kindergarten through eighth graders who attend the school.
Taylor said because they are one of the poorest districts in the state, the students rely on receiving the meals at school, as well as a place to go while parents work.
"The students are why we are here," Taylor said. "We're not going to stop serving them."
Regina Henderson, superintendent at Leach, said her school board has passed a resolution in full support of teachers and support personnel.
"I am so hopeful this will not be necessary," Henderson said. "Right now it's just wait and see every day."
If her teachers join the walkout fully, Henderson said she will have to close campus.
"I wish people could see the quality educators we have at this school," Henderson said. "The quality of educators blows my mind. I'm continually amazed by them."
Leach, which is in the southwestern corner of the county, is a kindergarten through eighth grade school with 131 students.
Henderson said serious conversations are taking place within the community in order to ensure students have a place to go, and they are not left hungry if school should close.
Charlene Carter, superintendent at Moseley Public Schools in West Siloam Springs, said her board has formally endorsed its support for the teachers and staff.
She plans to close school on April 2 - swapping it for a planned day out of school on April 6 - to allow her teachers and staff to travel en masse to Oklahoma City.
After April 2, she has divided her team into delegations. Each group will travel to Oklahoma City on their designated days, allowing their voices to be heard at the capitol, but still allowing for class on the kindergarten to eighth grade campus.
Carter said devised this method with her team, in order to ensure the needs of the 240 students were met, while having their voices heard by the legislators.
"We are thinking about the kiddos and the community," Carter said. "WE'll do this however long it takes. We're all hopeful this will be for naught and be settled prior to any of us doing this."
Bud Simmons, superintendent at Colcord Schools, said he plans to present a resolution supporting the teacher walkout to his board members during a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27.
Simmons said he is "looking to cancel classes if the need arises."
Kansas Superintendent Jim Burgess planned to put the resolution concerning the walkout before his school board during a meeting on Thursday evening - which took place after press time.
Oaks-Mission Superintendent Wyman Thompson was set to put the resolution concerning the walkout before his school board during a meeting on Thursday evening - which took place after press time.