October 17, 2014

State Board of Education approves sole-source cont
The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a sole-source contract with Measured Progress for the winter testing period during a special meeting Friday. The approval comes almost a month after declining to accept a no bid contract with fired testing vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill. The request was brought forward by the State Department of Education in September, which claimed at the time CTB was the only possible solution given the short window of time and the circumstances surrounding HB3399. State Superintendent Janet Barresi called Measured Progress “the best option available” saying it was a vendor “already familiar to and favorably received by Oklahoma schools.” Measured Progress was awarded a $3.4 million contract for the winter testing period beginning in mid-November. Given the circumstances, the department was able to negotiate the contract down by $100,000, staff said. bk

October 17, 2014

ABLE Commission begins review of proposed rule
Members of the Alcoholic Beverages Laws Enforcement Commission began their review Friday of a proposed rule that would permit wholesalers not to sell to specific retailers under certain conditions. Margaret Love, an attorney for the commission, said the issue was brought to the commission by a wholesaler who reported a female employee was sexually harassed and a male employ physically struck by a retailer or the retailer’s employees. Generally, alcoholic beverage wholesalers are required to sell their products to retailers and special event permits holders and are not allowed to turn away a customer. The proposed rule would authorize wholesalers not to sell to retailers and permit holders under specific conditions. bk

October 16, 2014

Regents request $59 million for Oklahoma’s Promi
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education unanimously approved a $61.7 million funding proposal Thursday for Oklahoma’s Promise for the 2015-2016 school year. The regents are asking for $59.0 million from the General Revenue Fund and will use $2.7 million from the program’s reserve fund. The $59.0 million General Revenue Fund portion of the funding proposal will be submitted to the Board of Equalization. Under a law passed in 2007, funding for the program is deducted from anticipated General Revenue Fund collections before the board certifies the revenue estimate on which lawmakers and the governor will pass the next fiscal year's budget. Oklahoma's Promise, previously known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), pays the college tuition for students who enroll in the program in the eighth through tenth grade if their parents' income from taxed and untaxed sources is $50,000 or less at the time of their college enrollment. Students participating in the program also must take specifically outlined coursework at their high schools, maintain a certain GPA, and meet conduct requirements. Eligible students can apply their tuition waiver to any Oklahoma public two-year college or four-year university. bk

October 16, 2014

House committee looks into need for athletic
House committee looks into need for athletic trainers in high school sports The House Public Health committee held an interim study Tuesday to examine the need for more athletic trainers at high school sporting events across the state. Rep. Dan Kirby, who hosted interim study H14-043, said the rise in deaths associated with youth sports across the U.S. is a serious problem that requires consideration by the Legislature. His study focused heavily on head trauma and heat-related injuries, and the increased responsiveness an on-site athletic trainer can provide. bk

October 16, 2014

Work Comp Commission amends funding requests
The Workers Compensation Commission voted Thursday to increase its fiscal year 2015 supplemental request and to decrease its total FY2016 budget request, funding a plan to make court reporters available for trials before administrative law judges. The plan approved Thursday increases the commission FY2015 supplemental funding request by $10,000 and decreases its total FY2016 budget request by $180,000. Commission Executive Director Rick Farmer said the additional funds would be used to provide court reporters for hearings on a contract basis, rather than hiring full-time court reporters. Chairman Troy Wilson noted the commission’s statutes are unclear as to whether it is required it to provide court reporters for trials before administrative law judges and that it has not done so thus far. As a result, two cases are now pending against the commission in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. bk

October 16, 2014

Regents declare PASS standards college, career
Regents declare PASS standards college, career ready The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education approved a report Thursday that found the Priority Academic Student Skills college and career ready, a requirement of the legislation that eliminated the Common Core academic standards from the state’s curriculum. HB3399, which was approved by lawmakers in May and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in June, repealed Common Core standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and math and required the board of education to return schools to the PASS standards used in 2010 until new Oklahoma standards could be created and implemented by 2016. It also required the regents to review the PASS standards to determine if they are college and career ready. “The mathematics review committee unanimously concluded that the math PASS standards are college and career ready and that students who master the standards would be prepared for a first-year college math class such as college algebra,” Chancellor Glen Johnson said. “The ELA review committee unanimously concluded that the ELA PASS standards are college and career ready and that student who master the standards would be prepared for a first-year English composition course.” bk