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School News

The Board of Trustees of the Okmulgee Education Foundation recently awarded the following teacher grants for Fall 2014

Toni Peterson OES History is More Than Just Dead Guys $500.00

5th Grade Team OES Fitness & Fun With the Nifty Fifty $500.00
Toni Peterson
Jennifer Neal
Diana Burton
Alecia Mitchell
Christi Stuart

Marquita Dickinson OMS There Has to be a Song $336.00
Marquita Dickinson OMS Back to Circle The State $288.00

Lucky Burney OMS STEM Learning Labs $500.00

Allen Webb OPS The Centered School Library $475.00

Gaitha Crews OPS Reading is Fun! $467.38

Jacque McGertt OPS Shuffle On Into Literature $340.00
Interacting with Common Core $164.71

Cultural Enrichment Grant
Sylvia Bagby OPS Children's Garden $1,200.00

Total Approved: $4,771.09

1. Fifth Grade teachers at OES, grant title "Fitness & Fun With the Nifty Fifty". Teachers include Alecia Mitchell, Diana Burton, Toni Peterson, Jennifer Neal, and Josh Risner. OEF Board members, Beth Flud, Rusty Milroy, May Lewellen, Pat Wilson, Paula Brydges, Deb Path, Ron Arterbery, and Dolph Hayden.

2. Fifth Grade teacher, Toni Peterson, grant title "History is or Than Just Dead Guys". OEF Board members Beth Flud, Rusty Milroy, Margaret Hess, Mary Lewellen, Paula Brydges, Deb Path, Dolph Hayden, and Pat Wilson.

3. OMS teacher Lucky Burney, grant title "STEM Learning Labs" with OMS students and OEF Board members Ron Arterbery, Deb Path, Margaret Hess, Rusty Milroy, Pat Wilson, Dolph Hayden, Paula Brydges, and Beth Flud.

4. OMS Vocal Music Coach Marquita Dickinson, 2 grants titled "There Has to be a Song" and "Back to Circle the State" with OEF Board members Mary Lewellen and Paula Brydges and vocal music students.

5. Mrs. Dickinson and students demonstrating warm up scales.

6. Library/Media Specialist Allen Webb at The Primary School, grant title "The Centered School Library" with OEF Board members Pat Wilson, Beth Flud, Mary Lewellen, Paula Brydges, Margaret Hess, Dolph Hayden, Rusty Milroy, Principal Ginger James, Deb Path, and Ron Arterbery with OPS students.

7. OPS teachers Sylvia Bagby, grant title "Children's Garden" and Jacque McGertt, grant title "Shuffle On Into Literature" and "Interacting With Common Core" with OEF Board members Dolph Hayden, Deb Path, Ron Arterbery, Beth Flud, Paula Brydges, Margaret Hess, Mary Lewellen, Rusty Milroy, Pat Wilson, and Principal Ginger James.

8. OPS Reading Specialist Gaitha Crews, grant title "Reading is Fun!" with Principal Ginger James and OEF Board members Margaret Hess, Rusty Milroy, Mary Lewellen, Paula Brydges, Pat Wilson, Deb Path, Beth Flud, Dolph Hayden, and Ron Arterbery.

Speech Coach Skyleen Willingham receiving flowers from her students. (Photos by Valerie Rice - ONN)

The Okmulgee High School Speech and Debate team presented "A Day in the Life of the Average Thespian" at the Clell Warrnier Auditorium on Tuesday night. The performance was a Readers Theatre comedy that included performances by medal winners of the current school year.

Participants were: Mikaelah Harding, Kristopher Mayfield, Olivia Linton, Olivia Rucker, Duncan Martin, Stormy Howell, John Hayes, Kendall Harris, Angelica Caraballo, and Coach Skyleen Willingham. Also stage help by Corinthia (Cat) Prince and Noah Hammon.

The following list are accomplishments by the speech team.

Kris Mayfield and Mikealah Harding placed 3rd in Cross x 2 times, competed in Champs Ex, placed 3rd in Ex at regional's and competed in ex at state.

Kris Mayfield also competed in domestic extemp, poetry, monologue and HD which he placed 3rd with Angelica, took to regional's and made 2nd alternate.

Mikealah Harding also competed in original oratory and poetry, making it to finals in both.

Olivia Linton placed 5th and 3rd in Lincoln Douglas debate, competed in champs making it to finals with a 4-0 record and made it to quarters at regional's placing 2nd alternate. She also competed in domestic extemp and prose - making it to finals at two different tournaments.

John Hayes placed 1st in MO , 2nd in PR, 2nd in HD, made to finals in dramatic interpret and original oratory, at regional's he competed in MO, made to finals in PR and HD making 2nd alternate in both.

Stormy Howell placed 2nd in HD, 3rd in SO, and made it to finals in 00 and PR at regional's she made it to finals in SO and HD where she made 2nd alternate.

Duncan Martin placed 1st in SO, 3rd in DEX, also placing 3rd in champs DEX. He competed in PR and LD debate. At regional's he placed 3rd in SO and was regional champion in DEX. He took SO and DEX to STATE.

Olivia Rucker placed 1st in PO and at regional placed 2nd in poetry taking her to state competition.

(Check back for Video of the nights highlights)

Okmulgee High School Speech team.


Okmulgee Education Foundation awards Okmulgee Primary School Teacher Sylvia Bagby a $1200 Scholarship which will fund an outdoor covered classroom space in the OPS garden.

Sylvia has been bringing the skill of gardening to her students in an outdoor classroom that fosters active, hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a real world setting.

Students are discovering science through the learning process of growing plants, plus taking an interest in how to grow healthy vegetables and learning about their nutritional aspects.

The Okmulgee School Board on the rainy Monday evening of May 12.

Item #2 Consent Agenda was approved for the following items.  [Find full agenda in previous story CLICK HERE]
The following reports were given:  Click the speaker to Listen to Audio

A. Superintendent's Report -– Tod Williams

During the report, OES Music teacher Marquita Dickenson announced her resignation due to her husband taking a job in another city.  She encouraged the board to keep the music program going and that she felt sincerely that it has been beneficial to the students.

B. Treasurer's Report –- Brenda Barnett
C. Special Education Report -- Margie Bemis
D. Athletics Report -- Kevin Gordon gave a positive report on the Okmulgee students with several improvements and achievements.  One highlight was that the girls track team made state-runner up, the first in the history of attending the state meet. 

(L-R) Athletic Director Kevin Gordon with Coach Gary Robbins who recieved Coaches Achievement Award - Photo by Valerie Rice

There was no input from the Public regarding any item on the agenda in 4. Petition to Opine.  Two were requested, but were declined to hear due to the nature of the information that concerned school employees and the Board is not allowed to hear in open session.

Item #5. All Action Agenda items were approved.  A lenghty discussion was held concerning Item E. Discussion, consideration and possible vote to modify the school uniform policy for school year 2014-2015 – presentation from Renee Dove and members of the District Leadership Team.  The Board chose to go with suggestions proposed by the District Leadership Team.  The changes will add a grey polo shirt and allow a zippered sweat shirt that may be warn in class on cool days in red, black, white or grey, but a pullover sweatshirt will be discluded from the classroom.  All heavy coats and jackets must be left in the locker after arriving at school.

There was no new business and the meeting was adjourned.

Part of the Okmulgee girl's track team showed up to be recognized during the school Board meeting. - Photo by Valerie Rice



The Okmulgee High School Speech team will perform "A day in the Life of the Average High School Thespian."

The high school speech department has had an exciting year bring back competitive speech to Okmulgee High School.

Craig Brydges, long time English and Drama teacher at OHS (and a former competitive speaker of Okmulgee High School) along with Skyleen Willingham, (Science teacher and also a former competitive speaker of OHS) worked with grades 9 -12 to compete this year.

Students performed at the tournaments in Okarche, Mounds, Quinton, and Bristow. 10 events place to go to Regionals at Roges State in Claremore and 3 events qualified for State at OU in April.

The students will be presenting a Readers Theatre and award winning performances for the public on May 13, at 7 pm at the Clell Warrnier auditorium at the Okmulgee High School.

Tickets are available from any speech student, Mrs. Willingham, the Chamber of Commerce, Mainstreet Director, and Truly Yours Salon as well as at the door.

Ticket money will be used to cover entry and transportation fees for next years competitors.

Everyone is invited to come support the Okmulgee High School's Speech Department and enjoy an evening of great performance.  Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.

                                                                                                      Photo by Paul Orosco - ONN

The Okmulgee School Board covered a small but heavy agenda item list in a special meeting that was called for April 30, at 3 p.m.

All Okmulgee School Board members were in attendance.  The first item to be addressed that would talk about the streamlining of operations by possibly establishing a Jr. High School for the 7th and 8th grade students by adding classrooms at the new Okmulgee High School building and also by moving the 3rd through 6th grades to the Middle School site and closing down the one school site. The building would then be used as a community center, used for professional development, summer school and summer multicultural activity and be rented out throughout the year for events such as weddings, funerals, private parties and various events. It would retain a functioning, kitchen, gymnasium and stage, great room in addition to the classrooms and meeting rooms.

Addressing the budget cuts each year and the most recent cut of $656,000 Supt. Tod Williams stated, "We can no longer continue to spend more than we bring in."

Williams explained how school budgeting works and suggest using the "delayed reaction method". He explained the state of the budget which has been cut every year.

"Due to the cuts we have received, we will be 1.5 million dollars short." Williams said the school has done well over the past two years because of having plenty of carry over. "This years revenue is set for 10.8 million, the expenditures will be 12.3, less than last year, but due to the cuts we have received, we will be 1.5 million dollars short. Last year our carry over was 3.1 million dollars. This year we expect it to be 2.2 million. That is a loss of carry over of $891,000. If we do nothing different next year, our habit of dipping into the carry over, plus the $656,000 that they cut us, results in a combined diminution of 1.5 million dollars and we will experience this cut about this time next year," said Williams.

"By doing nothing our carryover would be $727,116 and that is not enough carry over for a district this size. That means the following year, FY16, that's when we would run out of money."

Williams suggested cutting at a minimum a 1 million. "As I have explained in this school financing, everything is a delayed reaction. You do one thing one year, so it flips over to the next year and that affects the third year. If we wait until we see the problem right in front of us, it's too late to fix it. Everything must be adjusted one year in advance. That is why I recommend taking this action now. Today as we sit here now, we are perfectly fine, we are fiscally fine, there is not a problem. If we don't change what we are doing, this time next year, we will have a problem. And the problem will be, that the following year, we will not be able to pay out."

In looking at ways to prepare for the following years, Williams explained in detail his plans A and B. He outlined his most conservative option in plan A, first by giving a list of strengths to plan A as follows in his Academic Efficacy.

Unifying the secondary grades would:

• Puts our "at risk" kids with our best and most successful site
• Utilizes our best administrative team for our most "sensitive" student group
• Maximizes Band efficiency - keeps 7through 12 band all at one site
• Allows 7-12 Band to practice together before school
• Maximizes our Athletic Program
• Utilizes our coaches in the classroom by use of a common Athletic Hour
• Establishes consistency and continuity in all athletic fields grades 7-12
• Utilizes the extended block schedule for grades 7 and 12
• Allows PAW Time for Junior High Kids
• Establishes prosocial behaviors via influence of more mature students
• Allows for mentoring and role model development in Junior/Senior kids towards
7 &8 Grade students
• maximizes efficiency of Library resources
• Facilitates better use of cafeteria staff in serving kids
• Eliminates unnecessary administrative staff
• Better utilizes secretarial staff
• Establishes a mentality of 'belonging" in the minds of the Jr. High kids
• Returns us to the traditional American Elementary through 6th Grade
• Facilitates more economic use of teacher FTE loads
• Allows for greater course offerings
• Captures numerous savings due to the economy of scale

Williams presented a fiscal savings plan of plan A to the Board that showed as he stated, "Step one to implement the recommended academic efficiency plan, step 2 the kids get a better school, and step 3 the Board gets a better savings by compaction of the schedule and the economy of scale."

Williams said there would not be any reduction of support staff, but through retirements, resignations and temporary teachers the school could avoid very many lost positions and was hopeful to shuffle positions around, so that everyone would have a job. "This may take a year or two to get lined out," he said.

The end goal would be that school budgets would be allowed to increase while at the same time the community would grow and in the future, the 7th and 8th grade center can become an 8th and 9th grade center; the Dunbar site becomes a 5-7 Middle School and the community center can be repurposed into a 3-6 elementary. The Primary grows into a P3 through 2 site.

As requested by the Board President, Williams prepared a plan B to see how they could sustain a little while longer.

Step one was to implement cuts outlined in a sheet prepared for the Board, step two monitor the budget monthly for FY15, step three reexamine the state of finances after the midterm adjustments come in, and then revert to plan A only if necessary. The plan included losing one administrator at the middle school, saving $50,000, not seeking to replace a retiring librarian, another $50,000. The deputy Superintendent would not be replaced, saving $80,000. Most likely cut three teachers from the elementary staff and three teachers at the high school, $135,000 at each site and going off provision 2, at $100,000, an estimated savings of $550,000. Also note there was an additional $488,000 that was spent on projects that would not be spent again.

Board member Mark Tuggle made a motion to accept plan B and the Board approved unanimously.

The QZAB program in item 3, was approved.  The Board went into executive session and took no action on item 5 and Middle School Principal Kelly Berry's resignation was accepted in item 8.  Meeting was adjourned.

Click here to listen to the full comments in the Board meeting.



Photos by Paul Orosco - ONN

Okmulgee Middle School Principal Kelly Berry turned in her resignation to the school board, which was addressed in a special school Board meeting Wednesday April 30 at 3:00 p.m.

Berry asked to return to a teaching or counselor position with the school and the Board accepted her resignation.

Click here for full School Board meeting story

A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on Saturday morning dedicating the Okmulgee baseball field to former Baseball Coach and Athletic Director Danny Morgan.

An impressive new sign has been installed at the field along with a major overhall. The City recently turned the field over to the school who will now manage the field.

The ceremony will take place during the Okmulgee School Alumni games when the men and women alumni come in to play against the current boys and girls teams.

Morgan said, "I am very fortunate and blessed. It has been a fond memory of being here, I had a great time, great players and great support.  I am very honored for this to happen.  Words cannot come to enough to say how thankful I am to all those who made this happen.  I look forward to seeing the field get back to where it is supposed to be.  This is a great ball field.  I am very humbled to have my name on it."

Danny Morgan coaching days

Photos by Paul Orosco - ONN

They're curious, like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt.

Working in a garden, a child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life firsthand.          

Gardening gives children a chance to learn an important life skill, one that is usually overlooked in standard school curriculums.  Primary School teacher Sylvia Bagby is taking gardening right into the classroom.  It a great way to teach environmental and healthy food awareness by exploring the workings of nature.

Watch this video to see how the gardening project is coming along.

Photos by Paul Orosco - ONN Chief Photography

$68,622 Rebate Check to Okmulgee Schools from PSO

(L-R) Superintendent Tod Williams, School Board President Mark Tuggle , PSO Consumer Program Director Mike Kernan and AEP-PSO Lyle Stogner Account Representative. Photo by Paul Orosco - ONN

The hefty rebate check to Okmulgee schools is finally in.  Superintendent Tod Williams and School Board President Mark Tuggle gladly took the honor to recieve the check presentation on Monday. PSO Consumer Program Director Mike Kernan and AEP-PSO Lyle Stogner Account Representative made the presentation.

The rebate check was given for the recent lighting updates after the school completed all requirements needed to qualify.

Tod Williams made these remarks:

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