Cherokee School Board accepts several resignations
April 7, 2021
The Cherokee Board of Education sadly accepted several resignations at its board meeting Monday, many of them from long-time teachers or staff.
Resignation letters were received from Kassie Hair, Shelly Burleson, Malari Cline, Cathy Parks, Patty Means, Cathy Graham and Ruth Richmond. The resignation letters were often moving, always referring to the deep affection the individual holds for Cherokee and the students and staff at the school. Some of those resigning are moving on to other school districts, while others have chosen to spend more time on other projects or with family.
Superintendent Bryce Shanbacher spoke somberly about losing these individuals. “Several of them have been in the school system for a very long time,” he said. “We certainly wish them the best of luck.”
“Testing season has arrived,” reported Elementary Principal Ruth Richmond. Upcoming activities at the elementary include a petting zoo, several track meets, and an event in which all the emergency vehicles are brought to the elementary and the students are taught about them.
In the high school, students are applying for scholarships; eighth and ninth graders will be touring Northwest Technology Center, and juniors will take the ACT. The FCCLA held its state convention recently, and Cherokee had two state champions, two runners up and a third place.
In sports, track meets will be held April 13 and 17 and the regional track meet is on the 30th. The softball tournament is April 22-24; golf will be April 20 and the regional golf meet is April 26. Spring sports photos will also be April 26.
The FFA, although the showing season is largely over, is selling flowers and other things. “They did a really great job on the greenhouse out there,” said Principal Hickman.
On April 29 is the FCCLA awards banquet; the FFA convention is April 26-28. The state speech competition is April 8-10. April 17 is prom.
Discussion: Should Cherokee Join Attack on State's Charter School Equalization Decision?
The longest discussion of the night had to do with whether the school should join with 200 other school districts to insist that the state board of education reverse a highly controversial decision that would take money from the Cherokee (and all other public) schools' building fund and transfer it to charter schools.
The agenda item stated it this way: “...due to the overreaching, illegal, and unconstitutional nature of the action by the state board of education, the board of education demands that the state board of education meet and rescind the action of Marsh 25, 2021, adopting a resolution to equalize funding between all public schools and charter schools....”
This is referring to the state board of education deciding, after a four-year legal battle, to resolve the problem by settling with the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association. Debate has raged for years whether these semi-autonomous schools should receive public funding.
“It is my believe, along with that of many other superintendents – as well as State Superintendent Hofmeister – that that action was unconstitutional and illegal because by doing that they were deciding how to allocate funds, and that is the responsibility of the state legislature, not the state board of education,” said Schanbacher. “So what we're really discussing is whether we want to join in a cooperative agreement with other schools and organizations to try to get them (the state board of education) to rescind this action.”
If the action results in litigation, the school could be on the hook for $1,000 or $2,000, according to the estimates gives Schanbacher, but those involved appear hopeful that it won't go to litigation.
Responding to questions from board members, Schanbacher said that the board can table the issue now and still join in later, if they so choose; they could also join in now, and withdraw later (like, before any litigation, presumably) if they chose. Joining in with the action would not result in Cherokee getting a bigger payout in the event of any change of funding allocation. So far, a couple hundred of the state's 510 school districts have joined in, but because of Cherokee's financial situation, Schanbacher thought this might not be the time to join.
The board took no action on the matter.
Other Board Business
The board approved hiring everyone on a long list of certified and support staff. They also approved the usual statement about figuring the school year by hours rather than days.
Board members approved the reports on the various funds' of balances, expenditures, purchase orders, encumbrances, and warrants. Schanbacher said he hopes the money from one of the tax protests that was settled last month will show up this month, but it had not appeared at the time of the meeting.