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Bartlesville Schools Consider Taking A Break To Pressure Lawmakers

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BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -

School leaders in Bartlesville will be discussing closing down classes to put pressure on the legislature for more funding and teacher pay raises.

The idea of taking a break to lobby the legislature is coming from the top, but it has support from some members of a parents advocacy group as well.

In Bartlesville, high school students are rushing to build a robot for a state contest.  It's the kind of advanced lesson that inspired retired engineer George Halkiades to volunteer to help.

"I was fortunate to get a good high school education, go to college and use that education to have a good career," said Halkiades.  "I want every kid to have that opportunity."

It's also why Halkiades supports teachers - even if they decide to leave the classroom to lobby for better education funding.

He's part of the education support group called "PEAK" that's mobilizing parents.

"We certainly support our teachers, and if they decide this we'll be behind them in whatever way we can," said Halkiades.

Bartlesville Superintendent Chuck McCauley says "it's a big deal to even consider not having classes.  Kids should be in class and teachers should be teaching.  That's what we want to happen."

McCauley said his district has 12 emergency certified teachers now and has lost 5 good teachers in the past year to Kansas.  Funding is now at what he calls a tipping point.

"Frankly, we're hiring people we wouldn't have interviewed not that long ago and our community has a high expectation of what education should be," said McCauley.  "We need some help from the legislature with better funding to retain our teachers and hopefully recruit more teachers to come into the profession."

The School board meets Monday at 5:30 p.m.  Discussion of this break in classes is on the agenda.

If approved, the break would likely be held in April and may depend on whether more districts join the effort to pressure lawmakers.

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