Emily Wendler

Reporter

Emily Wendler joined KOSU in February 2015, following graduate school at the University of Montana.

While studying Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism with an emphasis on agriculture, a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love.

The Cincinnati native has since reported for KBGA, University of Montana’s college radio station, and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio.

She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.

Ways to Connect

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools says the plan to close five schools in order to save money is off the table. However, cuts are going to have to come from somewhere.

State-wide financial issues are forcing the Oklahoma City Public School district to cut between $4 and $10 million dollars out of its budget.

For the second time this year, the State Board of Education approved a charter school application that a local school board had previously denied.

A group of parents applied to start Le Monde International School, a French and Spanish Immersion charter school in Norman, but the Norman Public School Board of Education denied their application twice.

Cathy Nashert, the President of the Norman School Board, says the application was not very strong.

The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved several education related bills, including measures that address teacher pay, teacher recruitment, and the reduction of administrative costs, among other issues. These bills will now go to the House for consideration. 

 

Here's a list of the education-related bills passed out of the Senate on Wednesday:

Emily Wendler / KOSU

In anticipation of more budget cuts the superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools has proposed closing five schools to save money. 

State budget problems forced Oklahoma's largest school district to cut $30 million out of their budget last year, and superintendent Aurora Lora said the district is facing upwards of $10 million in cuts next year.

ok.gov/sde/superintendent

Under a new federal education law, all states are required to come up with plans for keeping their schools accountable. However, last week, U.S. Senators voted to roll back some of the rules within that law.

Now, the U.S. Department of Education will no longer tell states how to judge school quality, or how to identify low achieving schools, among other things.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

A rural Oklahoma school board recently chose not to approve a charter school in their district. But the State Board of Education exercised authority given to them in a new law and overrode that rural board’s decision. This is the first time this has happened, and it’s got some people wondering—who’s really in charge?

In 2015 Oklahoma lawmakers passed Senate Bill 782, which allowed rural school districts to start charter schools. Prior to this only large, urban school districts could have charters.

oksenate.gov

Oklahoma Senator Rob Standridge (R-Norman) chose not to push forward with a controversial school choice bill on Wednesday.

Standridge told committee members that he wanted to lay his Education Savings Account bill over until next year. But says he'll keep discussing and working on the issue in the mean time.

Education Savings Accounts—or school vouchers— are controversial because they allow parents to use state tax dollars towards private school tuition if they feel their child's needs aren’t being met in the public school.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The Oklahoma Board of Equalization declared a revenue failure for the current fiscal year, which will result in mid-year appropriations cuts to state agencies.

State agencies will receive across board cuts of 0.7 percent between March and June of this year. In total, agencies will be cut by $34.6 million.

Preston Doerflinger, the Director and Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology, said the situation is dire and more revenue is needed.

oksenate.gov

A Oklahoma Senate subcommittee passed seven bills about teacher pay on Wednesday, each one providing a different solution to the teacher pay problem.

Some of the bills propose $1,000 raises, others $10,000. Some provide funding mechanisms, while others do not.

Senator J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) says this is just the beginning of the conversation. He says the legislature knows raising teacher pay is the right thing to do and they've just got to figure out the right way to do it.

With a nearly $900 million budget shortfall, Oklahoma lawmakers want accountability for every penny. But within the coffers of private charter school management companies are millions of dollars that lawmakers can't see. 

Senator Jason Smalley wants to know exactly how much schools are spending on administration. He filed a bill to find out, because right now he said it’s not clear.

“Are all the individuals that should be classified as administration costs, actually being reported as that?” he asked. “I think that’s what the greater conversation is.”

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