We’re right in the thick of interim, and interim studies have officially commenced to study specific policy areas in depth. This week, we launched the bipartisan, bicameral Healthcare Working Group to examine how we can best provide necessary healthcare services for Oklahomans. This group will continue to meet for several months and hear from stakeholders and people who are experts in various areas of health care before proposing their findings and a plan.
Several weeks ago, I attended the first Senate Bill 441 School Calendar Working Group. As you may remember from past columns, Senate Bill 441 is the legislation from this past session that updates the public school calendar options available. The current calendar allows school districts to be in session for 1,080 hours each year, but under SB441, schools would be in session for a minimum of 165 school days. Districts could hold 1,080 hours of instructional time with no minimum amount of school days, but would have to meet minimum performance standards in academics and cost savings set by the Dept. of Education. Those standards are what this working group will set, and the standards must be approved by the Legislature next year. SB441 wouldn’t go into effect until at least the 2021-2022 school year. Two more meeting are scheduled in the next month.
On Aug. 2, I joined Nancy Griffin, the librarian at Yale Public Library, and her committee for an evening raising money for the wonderful downtown library that serves the community of Yale. The fundraiser was a “Once Upon a Time” Centennial Gala and it was wonderful to see the show of support from the people of Yale and its surrounding areas. Education has an enormous impact on people, especially young people, and I’m encouraged to see the enthusiasm for reading continue to grow!
This week, I gave the “graduation speech” at The Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing to celebrate 50 out of 80 inmates who graduated from the 19-week course called “Go Further,” a reentry program. The same day I joined the Payne County Bar Association for their monthly meeting to discuss the past legislative session and get input from them on everything from criminal justice reform to insurance legislation to the current driver’s license challenge.
I also recently attended an event hosted by University of Tulsa where the state Colleges of Teacher Education shared for an interim study on teacher recruitment and retainment. I was so impressed with the presentations and learned much information about the efforts across the state to share the valuable role our educators play in society and why it’s such a fantastic profession to choose if you want to set students up for a lifetime of success. Oklahoma’s students deserve the best teachers possible, and the Legislature is committed to bettering the situation inside our schools to help provide that. Our very own Dr. Robin Fuxa was the OSU OACTE Representative during the event and wrote an outstanding article published in The Oklahoman summarizing their three recommendations.
It was exciting to be a part of the Perkins Chamber of Commerce Community Appreciation Day for teachers. This is an annual event where vendors share in supporting Perkins-Tryon educators. With schools beginning I hope you can take time to thank a teacher and as always be extra cautious on the road in our school zones and bus stops.
As always, feel free to contact my office with any questions. You can reach me 405-557-7304 or email@example.com.
Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.