Sheilah Bright and Scott Palk to be inducted into Sand Springs Education Foundation Hall of Fame

The Sand Springs Education Foundation recently announced its 2019 Hall of Fame inductees. Sheilah Bright (Class of 1979) and Scott Palk (1985) will be honored at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday, April 25th at 6:00 p.m. in the Ed Dubie Field House.

The SSEF provides district teachers with grants for special equipment, supplies, and student projects. The Hall of Fame Banquet is one of their biggest annual fundraisers. Table sponsorships are available at $400 for eight seats, and individual tickets are $50. The dinner will be preceded by a silent auction at 5:30 p.m.

To purchase tickets or request further information, contact Tirita Montross at 918-798-1517.

Bright is a forty-year veteran journalist, publishing her first article at 15 years of age. She has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers and was part of an Emmy Award-winning script-writing team for Narrative Television Network. She was a driving force behind Operation Gold Pride, which raised more than $600,000 for Sand Springs Public Schools. She also recently opened the Bright Morning Farm event center.

Palk graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science from Oklahoma State University in 1989 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 1992. He served as an Assistant District Attorney for Cleveland County from 1992 to 2002 and was an Assistant United States Attorney from 2002 to 2011. He has worked as Deputy Criminal Chief and Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Coordinator. From 2011 to 2017 he was Assistant Dean of Students and Assistant General Counsel at the University of Oklahoma College of Law before being commissioned as a U.S. District Judge. Palk won Prosecutor of the Year awards in 1993 and 2004. In 2011 he was awarded the Director’s Certificate of Appreciation for Assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Hall of Fame inductees are required to have attended Sand Springs Public Schools for at least three years after the Sixth Grade, or to have spent at least eight total years in SSPS, or to have spent the last two years of high school in SSPS and to have graduated from the district.

They must have attained a position of “unusual respect, impact, or influence in the community,” or have attained regional prominence in their field, or to have attained an exception level of accomplishment in their field.

Previous inductees include:

Michael Dale Case
Cleta Evans
Mary Helen Burke (1932)
Tot M. Brown (1934)
Bessie Crawford Zackery (1934)
Opal Clark (1934)
Al Dodson, Sr. (1936)
Marshall Vaughn Perry (1937)
L.W. Welch Jr. (1939)
James A. Sanders (1941)
Johnnie Mae Young (1941)
Marques Haynes (1942)
Robert D. Simms (1943)
Clyde Boyd Jr. (1943)
Erwin D. Phillips (1946)
William R. Pogue (1947)
Charles Gray (1947)
George Everett (1947)
Montie R. Box (1947)
Thomas S. Crewson (1950)
Richard Courter (1951)
William Means (1951)
Charles Marvin Hughes (1952)
Jack B. Johnson (1952)
Jerrold Lawless (1952)
John H. Rudy (1953)
Ken Neal (1953)
Charles Jestice (1953)
Jerry Adair (1955)
M. David Riggs (1955)
Barbara Guynn Smith (1956)
Bennie Osborn (1956)
J. Dean Speer (1956)
John Beck (1956)

James E. Palmer (1956)
Jerry L. Halcomb (1957)
Jan Hagara (1957)
George Paden (1957)
Charles E. Buchner, III (1957)
Billy Allen Hall (1957)
Jerry A. Hanner (1958)
Carolyn Morrow Cheney (1958)
Clarence “Scratch” Purser (1959)
Randal Wayne White (1959)
Harlan S. Pinkerton, Jr. (1960)
Gerrie Holliday (1961)
Ward Sherrill (1963)
Danny Lee McDonald (1964)
William R. White (1965)
Lotsee Spradling (1966)
John Wolf (1967)
Larry Glen Hurst (1967)
Richard Neal (1967)
I.J. Ganem (1969)
Mike Burdge (1969)
Forrest C. Crawford (1970)
Dianne Dinkel (1970)
Chris Thurmond (1971)
Deborah Browers Barnes (1972)
Linda L. Robertson (1973)
Cathy Lynn Burdge (1973)
Janet Rutland Eicher (1975)
John Fitzgerald Blake (1979)
Sam Harris (1979)
Eric Bloom (1982)
Stacey Ford Butterfield (1985)
Timothy Wright (1988)

Senate Review by Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman

Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman (2).jpg

The following article contains opinions from the author that do not necessarily reflect those of Sandite Pride News or its staff. To submit an Op-ed contact

Last Thursday was the final day for third reading of bills in the House of origin. This simply means bills not passed off the Senate floor are dead for this session. We start the next step in the legislative process as we begin to consider House bills in Senate committees. Last year, the Legislature considered 2,289 bills, of which only 324 became law. This year, 1,061 SBs and Senate Joint Resolutions have been filed, with 429 passing off the Senate floor in time for last week’s deadline.  

I currently serve on five Senate committees; Education, Appropriations, Budget & Rules, Health & Human Services and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. 

Ensuring access to quality health care and mental health care services are just two of my passions and my professional experience as a mental health therapist brings a unique perspective and skillset to my role as a legislator. Focusing on the importance of mental health, I authored several measures this year that would be another step in helping students in Oklahoma schools.

Senate Bill 266 requires each school district to adopt policies related to suicide awareness and training and the reporting of student drug abuse. This includes adopting a training program and providing the program made available by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (ODMHSAS). Teachers, students, and administrators are granted immunity from employment discipline and civil liability for carrying out certain actions detailed by the measure. I authored this bill because it’s essential for more people to understand depression and suicidality and the importance of increasing awareness in our district and across the state. Just within our Senate district, schools report seeing an average of eight suicide notes a day. This is an eye-opening statistic that supports the need for increased education, programming and funding to address mental health care for Oklahoma’s students.

A second bill I authored this session is Senate Bill 452, which was created as a result of an interim study between the Department of Juvenile Affairs, DMHSAS and the Department of Education to create alternatives to school suspension for students. SB 452 directs school districts to consider restorative practices instead of out-of-school suspension for students who assault school personnel. Restorative practices could include community service, requiring the student to apologize, assessment for mental health, and referrals to mental health professionals and would be made available to all students of the district. The measure specifies that school districts must provide for a student’s reengagement if suspension or alternative school settings are utilized and also asks school districts to create a threat assessment for a student convicted of a violent crime.

If you are excited or concerned about any piece of legislation moving into the Senate from the House in the coming weeks; especially related to the committees I serve on, please reach out and let’s talk. Don't forget include your address so we know you are a constituent of our district. If you need help determining your Senate district, we would be happy to assist you. If you are visiting the Capitol and would like to stop by, our new office is located in Room 524.

As always, on any issue please feel free to contact my office at 405-521-5600 or at Please let me or my assistant, Audra, know if we can be of assistance to you. It is an honor to serve Senate District 37 and I look forward to continuing to represent you.  

"Unseen India" photography exhibit opens at Sand Springs Museum

The Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum is currently hosting an exhibit from photojournalist Bernie Guzik, and the museum held a grand opening for “Unseen India” with hors d’oeuvre and a lecture from the artist.

Guzik, who now resides in Tulsa, is a Cleveland, Ohio native and experienced musician. He graduated The Julliard School of performing arts in Manhattan, New York, and has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Tulsa Philharmonic.

He also has extensive travel experience in areas like Kenya, Israel, and Alaska, and his new exhibit comes from a February 2017 visit to rural tribal lands in eastern India. Though he did stop by the Taj Mahal during his trip, most of his time was spent far from traditional tourist locations.

The Sand Springs Museum is located in the former Page Memorial Library in the heart of the downtown Triangle District. Built in 1929, its unique style of art deco architecture landed it on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to traveling exhibits, it also has a permanent display of the unique philanthropic and charitable history of Sand Springs.

“Unseen India” will be on display through May 31st. The museum is at 9 East Broadway Street and is open Tuesday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Admission is free. The museum can be reached at 918-246-2509.

Sand Springs was named Oklahoma’s “Best Place to Escape To in 2019” by Expedia, and the museum is only one of countless tourist sites in the city. From beautiful murals, scenic drives, the Arkansas River, Shell Lake, Case Community Park, and the Keystone Ancient Forest, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Sand Springs voters overwhelmingly approve School Bond Propositions

Voters in the Sand Springs Public School District overwhelmingly voiced their support for a pair of general obligation bond measures Tuesday.

Proposition No. 1, totaling $32.85 million, passed with 92.83% in favor. 1,774 voted yes with only 137 against.

A second proposition totaling $1.3 million passed with 91.43% in favor to provide for new school buses. The measure received 1,749 “yes” votes and 164 “no” votes.

The new bonds won’t be sold until existing bonds are paid off, so the millage rate will remain the same and property taxes will not increase.

Totaling more than $34 million, the two measures will provide funding for a number of projects, most notably the construction of a new freshman wing on the Charles Page High School campus.

The new $14.28 million building will conjoin with the high school through the existing lobby, but will keep the freshmen separate from the upperclassmen for the majority of the day. Currently more than 75% of Central Ninth Grade Center are shuttled from downtown to the high school every day for athletics and other activities.

The new wing would also include several classrooms dedicated to the district’s STEM Initiative, enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics curriculum.

$7.2 million will go to technology enhancements throughout the district. Computer software systems will be updated to protect student data and provide mobile tech support, and WiFi will be improved and expanded throughout the district.

$825,000 will go to the district’s thriving athletic programs. Memorial Stadium will get new turf, the baseball and softball fields will be regraded, and wrestling mats and other athletic equipment will also be purchased.

Other Proposition No. 1 projects include:

  • New gymnasium/storm shelter at Angus Valley Elementary.

  • Bleachers for Garfield Elementary gymnasium.

  • Electrical upgrades at Limestone Elementary.

  • Playground upgrades at Northwoods Fine Arts Academy.

  • Playground equipment for Early Childhood Education Center.

  • ADA Accessible bathroom at Pratt Elementary.

  • Removal of louvers on front windows at Clyde Boyd Middle School.

  • Kitchen equipment at all district sites.

  • Band uniforms and elementary music equipment.

  • Additional space for Drama Department.

  • Sound system upgrades to auditoriums and Ed Dubie Field House.

  • District HVAC and roofing maintenance.

  • Books and digital curriculum for all sites.

  • Media Center materials.

  • Painting, pavement, electrical, and plumbing maintenance.

Board of Education presents award to Stephen West, Brittany Pride, and Lance Beckner

Stephen West was presented with a Sandite Spirit Award after being nominated by Head Football Coach Dustin Kinard. Kinard, who is battling pancreatic cancer, said West was an inspiration to him this past season. West is diabetic, and not quite athletic enough to see action on the varsity team. Despite this, he still showed up to every practice and was one of the hardest working players on the team. Kinard said if West could be there giving his all, then he had to show up too.

Brittany Pride was presented with a Pacesetter Award for her work on the Central Ninth Grade Center yearbook. Pride is the yearbook teacher, and this year’s book was recognized by the publisher as one of the best in the nation. In addition to presenting Pride with an award, the publisher will also be using the CNGC yearbook as an example material for districts across the country.

Lance Beckner was presented with a Pacesetter Award in recognition of a large financial donation to the Sand Springs Special Olympics program. Beckner’s annual donation helps send student athletes to the Special Olympics in Stillwater every year.

District officials discussed the recent school grading system released by the State. According to Director of Special Services Sherry Rooks, many of the grades can be misleading due to Bell Curve grading and inconsistent criteria across school sites. For example, there are no State tests at the ninth-grade level, so the only criteria used for assessing Central Ninth Grade Center’s performance was chronic absenteeism. On top of that, the site scored an A initially, but it was dropped to a C because of the curve.

According to Track and Field Coach Mike Burdge, the City of Sand Springs Parks and Recreation Department is donating their time and expertise to construct a throwing surface for the high school discus and shot put teams.

The Board accepted the resignations of Rebecca Price and Lance Beck and the retirements of Becky Hatchett and Janie Abernathy.

The Board approved the appointments of Greg Morris as Board Treasurer, Terri Kennedy as Assistant Treasurer, and Lynne Graves as Encumbrance Clerk.

Board approved a lease agreement with the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts University for the CPHS Graduation ceremony on May 11, 2019.

Board approved the purchase of two fourteen-passenger Type-A Mini Buses, a Special Education Bus, and two 71-passenger Regular Education Buses.

Board approved the following out of state travel:

  • Shawn Beard and JJ Smith to attend the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Conference in Philadelphia in June.

  • Lauren Hamilton, Paige Vann, and Amy McAllister to attend the Trauma Informed School Conference in St. Charles, Missouri in June.

  • Megan Sowers, Rachel Ellis, and Sallem Tullis to attend the National I Teach 2nd Grade Conference in Las Vegas in July.

  • Chris Corbin to attend CrossFit Kids Training in Fenton, Missouri in April.

  • Andrea Campfield and Jaden Salazar to attend the National Shakefest Competition in New York City in April.

Sand Springs to vote on new school bond projects Tuesday, including new Ninth Grade Center

Sandites will take to the polls Tuesday to voice their support or opposition of a nearly $33 million bond proposal.

The Sand Springs Public School District is hoping to pass two General Obligation Bond Propositions that would provide funding for a number of projects, most notably a new Ninth Grade Center and STEM Academy.

The current Ninth Grade Center is located at 14 West 4th Street in downtown Sand Springs. It is the oldest building in the district and is the former site of Sand Springs High School. According to district officials, more than 75% of freshmen are shuttled to the high school campus every day for classes, athletics, and other activities.

The district hopes to spend $14.28 million on a new Ninth Grade Center on the campus of Charles Page High School. The building would be partly connected to the High School through the existing lobby, but would otherwise keep the younger students separate from the upperclassmen for the majority of their day.

The new wing would also include several classrooms dedicated to the district’s STEM Initiative, enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics curriculum.

$7.2 million will go to technology enhancements throughout the district. Computer software systems will be updated to protect student data and provide mobile tech support, and WiFi will be improved and expanded throughout the district.

$825,000 will go to the district’s thriving athletic programs. Memorial Stadium will get new turf, the baseball and softball fields will be regraded, and wrestling mats and other athletic equipment will also be purchased.

Proposition No. 1 will total $32.85 million. Other Proposition No. 1 projects include:

  • New gymnasium/storm shelter at Angus Valley Elementary.

  • Bleachers for Garfield Elementary gymnasium.

  • Electrical upgrades at Limestone Elementary.

  • Playground upgrades at Northwoods Fine Arts Academy.

  • Playground equipment for Early Childhood Education Center.

  • ADA Accessible bathroom at Pratt Elementary.

  • Removal of louvers on front windows at Clyde Boyd Middle School.

  • Kitchen equipment at all district sites.

  • Band uniforms and elementary music equipment.

  • Additional space for Drama Department.

  • Sound system upgrades to auditoriums and Ed Dubie Field House.

  • District HVAC and roofing maintenance.

  • Books and digital curriculum for all sites.

  • Media Center materials.

  • Painting, pavement, electrical, and plumbing maintenance.

A second proposition totaling $1.3 million will also be on the ballot to provide for new school buses.

If the measures pass, the new bonds won’t be sold until existing bonds are paid off. The millage rate will remain the same and property taxes will not increase. However, Sand Springs property taxes will drop in the near future if voters choose not to approve the measures.

Why doesn't Sandite Pride cover more high school programs?

Why doesn’t Sandite Pride cover Debate, Academic Competition, Theater, Band, etc. like we do with sports? Don’t we care about all Sandites? Don’t all our hardworking kids deserve recognition?

I would hope it goes without saying that of course we do care, but from the outside looking in I can see why it might not seem that way. Unfortunately we only have one full time writer and there’s just not enough hours in the day at this time. Sports are a lot easier to cover for a number of reasons. 

The baseball and softball teams, for example, use an app for scoring the games that automatically uploads all of the stats online where I can access them. Cross Country and Track results are also posted online. While I try to attend as many games as possible, it’s a great convenience to be able to cover those sports remotely. 

With wrestling, most tournaments are also scored online. And the duals are easy to get information on when I can’t attend because 100% of wrestling stats are scoring stats that go in the book. I have a good relationship with the wrestling coaches and can easily get information when I’m unable to attend events.

Football is only ten to thirteen games a year, so that’s easy to cover. I have also been appreciative of the volleyball coaches and basketball booster club for helping to provide results for those sports. 

Fine Arts and some sports have been neglected simply due to accessibility and time constraints. For example, while the school provides an app/website with sports schedules, rosters, etc., the debate and academic comp schedules aren’t even available on the school website. Some coaches, current and past, have been difficult to communicate with.

If the coaches of the underrepresented programs were to reach out or email us info, they would most certainly get coverage. But with my 80-100 hour work weeks, I just don’t have the extra time to be attending more events or emailing/calling people to track down info and expand our coverage.

In the almost three years since Sandite Pride incorporated, it has become self sufficient, but not yet profitable enough to be able to hire a second full time writer. Our team recently decreased from four to three. One accountant, one writer, and one part time writer, whose day job has increasingly conflicted with his ability to assist in local coverage. Notice what our team is lacking: a sales person, and an assistant.

As the only full time employee, I do 95% of the writing. I attend sporting events every Tuesday and Thursday, and most weekends. I’m at Board of Education meetings, City Council meetings, public forums, community events, ribbon cuttings, etc. I have business meetings to attend, I’m constantly driving hours away to road games, and in all of that mess I also have to find enough advertising to keep the bills paid.

In light of all of that, I hope you can understand why we don’t cover everything I would like to. In a perfect world, I would have multiple full time writers working together to make sure nothing goes without coverage.

Take a look at our Wrestling homepage, and the tremendous amount of time and energy that went into compiling that information. That level of care and dedication is what I want to bring to everything in Sand Springs.

I would love to have easily accessible databases on hand for every sport, as well as debate, academic competition, theater, band, national merit scholars, and more. If I had it my way, you could type in the name of anyone who ever lived in Sand Springs and find every single life accomplishment.

But I’m only one man. I’m 24, this is my first business, and I ran it like most people run businesses, we wouldn’t be providing half the coverage that we are. The fact is, it’s a passion project, not a get-rich scheme, and I can guarantee nobody else would put half as much time and effort into it.

Any time someone from the community can send us information, photos, etc. it is greatly appreciated. Sandite Pride is very much a grassroots response to a community need, and we need the community’s help to reach our goals.

Unlike other organizations, we aren’t backed by out of state billionaires with infinite resources at our disposal. We don’t have a downtown skyscraper with dozens of writers and photographers shooting on $2000 cameras. I’m just a kid with a personal laptop and a cheap camera trying to make a difference. 

So if you think there’s something we could be doing better, please help us. If you’re attending events that we’re not at, take down some notes, snap a picture, and send it all our way! Try your hand at writing if that’s something you’re interested in.

And most importantly, if you own a business or know someone who does, encourage them to advertise with us so we can expand our team and bring even more recognition to the great people who make this town what it is. 

Sand Springs City Council approves permits for city's first marijuana dispensaries

Police Chief Mike Carter was recognized for 25 years of service at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Medical Marijuana took center stage at Monday night’s Sand Springs City Council meeting.

Specific Use Permits (SUPs) were approved for a medical marijuana cultivation facility, as well as a dispensary, owned by Dr. Cannabis, LLC at 3417 S. 113th W. Ave., Suite B3. An SUP was also granted to Therapeutic Herbal Care, LLC to open a dispensary at 1126 E. Charles Page Blvd.

Council denied an SUP to David Dietrich for the purpose of opening a cultivation facility at 15208 W. Weaver Road. The facility would have been located in a predominately residential area, and numerous neighbors requested that Council deny the permit. At a recent Planning Commission meeting, nearby residents cited concerns about the effect that a cultivation facility would have on the neighborhood’s water pressure.

Nature’s Candy Dispensary was subject of discussion surrounding their name. The organization agreed to legally do business as Nature’s Apothecary at a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, due to objections to the use of the word “candy” in regards to a medicinal substance. New objections were raised by Councilman Jim Spoon to the use of the word “apothecary.” According to Spoon, businesses dealing in marijuana are banned from using the word “apothecary” by the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy. A motion was approved to award an SUP to the business on conditions that they not use any terms relating to pharmacy or candy. The dispensary will be located at 3417 S. 113th W. Ave., Suite A2.

In other news:

Oklahoma Municipal League representative Pam Polk presented a certificate to Police Chief Mike Carter in recognition of 25 years of service. Fleet Technician Michael O’Dell was not present, but will also be receiving the award.

Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution of support for the Sand Springs Public Schools’ General Obligation Bond Propositions 1 & 2. The propositions total $32,850,000 and will provide funding for transportation equipment and the construction of a new Ninth Grade Center and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy on the grounds of Charles Page High School. The measures will go to a vote of the people on March 5th.

Council unanimously voted to affirm dilapidation public nuisance hearing findings for a fire-damaged residential building at 405 West 7th Street.

Council unanimously voted to approve a Beautification Wall project at the City’s Water Treatment Plant on the corner of Highway 97 and Morrow Road. The funding for the project was passed by voters as a G.O. Bond measure in November of 2017. Council awarded the construction project to Crossland Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of $1,113,807.60. Council also awarded an administration and inspection contract to Keithline Engineering Group, PLLC in the amount of $98,118.87.

Council approved an ordinance authorizing the City of Sand Springs Police Department to remove individuals from private and public properties, without involving the property owner. The measure gives property owners the ability to inform the department of individuals banned from their property, and authorizes officers to remove that individual without first establishing contact with the property owner. This also includes nonspecific entities, such as bans on loitering or semi truck parking.

Council approved an ordinance authorizing the City Manager to determine individual salaries.

Council approved a $250,000.00 Title Sponsorship agreement with the Sharna and Irvin Frank Foundation, including naming rights and expanded hours with paid staff at the Keystone Ancient Forest visitors’ center. Voters approved funding for construction of a visitors’ center in a 2017 G.O. Bond election, but the sponsorship agreement will provide additional funding for increased visitors hours and a larger facility.

Council approved $100,322.00 for the purchase and instillation of communication equipment for the Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center.

Council approved granting an easement to OmniTrax for railroad property abutting the upcoming Main Street project in downtown. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will be bidding the project in February of this year, with construction set to begin soon after. Main Street will be rebuilt from 1st Street south to its current terminus, with a new section of road connecting Main Street west to Highway 97. A new frontage road will also be built to connect Main Street to the Lincoln Avenue On-Ramp onto Highway 412.

OmniTrax operates the Sand Springs Railway, which runs railways across Main Street, Morrow Road, and Highway 97. The easement will allow the railway to continue normal operations throughout the construction project.

Sen. Boren files legislation to increase funding for textbooks and other instructional materials

State Sen. Mary Boren has filed legislation aimed at putting more resources directly in the classroom for textbooks and other teaching materials.  Her legislation also requires funding allocated for instructional materials is used for that purpose. 

Boren, a former educator who has previously worked for both the State Department of Education the State Regents for Higher Education, said Senate Bill 206 would increase the per pupil amount for textbook and other instructional materials, which includes things like e-books, software and other related materials.  The measure would increase that amount from $55 to $200.

“When I worked for the Department of Education in 2001, the state was providing $55 per student.  Even though costs have risen dramatically since then, that amount is still just $55—plus, during the economic downturn, districts were given the ability to redirect those funds to other areas,” said Boren, D-Norman.  

“The combined result is school after school with tattered, outdated and insufficient textbooks and instructional materials and teachers and supporters being forced to plead for donations.  If we want our children to be able to compete, they need current textbooks and materials.  Forcing teachers and supporters to turn to outside fundraising may help in wealthier districts, but in many communities throughout the state, the resources simply aren’t there and our children are not getting the instructional materials they need to succeed. After looking at other states and visiting with Oklahoma teachers and administrators, it’s clear that $200 is a much more accurate reflection of the actual cost of instructional materials.”

Boren pointed out that since statehood, Oklahoma’s Constitution has required the state to provide textbooks.

“The vision for our public schools was that all children would have an equitable educational opportunity but without adequate state support it cannot happen,” Boren said.  

Boren’s legislation would also expand textbook selection committees at the local level to make sure teachers from each school within a district are included in that process.

“Those committees are evaluating material for every grade level, but under the current structure, you may or may not have teachers from all grade levels included,” Boren said.  “My language will include teachers from each district’s elementary, middle and high schools on those textbook committees.”

Boren said the investment made in teacher salaries last year was a critical starting point for education in Oklahoma and hopes her legislation will represent the next step.

“As we consider turnaround strategies for our state, it must include an examination of the level of investment our students deserve.  Senate Bill 206 gives us that opportunity,” Boren said.


Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman appointed to serve on five Senate committees

OKLAHOMA CITY –   State Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman was selected this week to serve on five Senate committees for the 57th legislature by Senate Democratic Leader Designate Kay Floyd. Ikley-Freeman represents District 37 which includes Sand Springs.

The Tulsa Democrat was appointed to serve on the Education, Appropriations and Budget and Rules Committees. She will also continue to serve on both the Senate Committee for Health and Human Services and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

“I am honored to have been chosen by Senator Floyd to serve on these committees,” Ikley-Freeman said. “Ensuring access to health care and mental health care services are just two of my passions and my professional experience as a mental health therapist brings a unique perspective and skillset to my role as a legislator.” 

Ikley-Freeman holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in clinical mental health. She continues to work in her community providing mental health services and fighting for increased access at the Capitol.

Members will return to the Capitol for an organizational day on January 8, 2019, and the 2019 session will formally begin on February 4.

Sand Springs schools take steps to prevent future carbon monoxide scares

After a recent carbon monoxide scare at Clyde Boyd Middle School, Sand Springs schools are taking steps to make sure it never happens again anywhere in the district.

Superintendent Sherry Durkee gave updates on the district’s reaction to a half-week school cancellation at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. CBMS and the Sixth Grade Center were closed for several days last week after students began exhibiting signs of carbon monoxide exposure.

An investigation into the school’s HVAC system revealed 8 out of 47 units at CBMS had become compromised, all of which have now been shut down, and replacements have been ordered. Workers are checking units throughout the district now and detectors are being installed in every single classroom throughout the district.

Durkee says she’s never even heard of a problem like this, that many districts do not have detectors, and some of those districts are reaching out to learn from the experience. Sand Springs will be educating all teachers on detecting signs of carbon monoxide poisoning going forward despite it not being a state requirement.

It’s common for HVAC units to develop leaks over time, and the mass failure was due to many of the units being purchased at the same time and aging simultaneously. The district already has quarterly inspections, exceeding those required by State law.

The Board also approved a resolution allowing Durkee to spend up to $75,000 following an emergency declaration without having to seek Board approval.

The middle school already has fifteen more minutes of instruction time than mandatory each day, so the lost days will not need to be made up.

In other news:

Charles Page High School Performing Arts Instructor Andrea Campfield was awarded a Sandite Spirit Award for her work with the CPHS Drama Department. She recently wrote and directed “When Merry Comes Home For Christmas,” which the Sand Springs Community Theater performed this past weekend.

CBMS students Kaitlyn Gurley and Hunter Cathey were given Sandite Spirit Awards for large donations they made to the Shop With a Cop program that helps provide Christmas presents for underprivileged youth in the area.

CBMS Life Applications for Students (LAFS) teachers Coy Caviness and Brad Ehmke were presented with Coins of Excellence.

The Board voted to rescind ballot language passed in the previous monthly meeting in favor of more specific verbiage that includes band equipment, wrestling mats, desks, and other items that will be purchased following a March bond election. None of the bond election plans have changed, Superintendent Sherry Durkee simply wanted to offer more transparency to the public on what the money will be going to specifically.

The Board voted to enter into an agreement with KKT Architects for designs for the new Central Ninth Grade STEM Academy Project.

The Board approved out of state travel for six district employees to attend the Solution Tree Response to Intervention at Work Conference in San Diego in March.

The Board accepted the resignations of Tammy Green and Dawn Jones, paraprofessionals at the Early Childhood Education Center, and Northwoods Fine Arts Academy, respectively.

The Board approved the hiring of a U.S. History teacher for CPHS, a science teacher at CBMS, and a paraprofessional at ECEC.

The Board voted to accept the resignation of Office No. 1 Board Member Krista Polankski. Because Polanski served more than half her term, the Board is able to either appoint a new member or leave the spot vacant till the next regular election.

George Rodrigue - Shiny Happy Blue Dog art exhibit makes Oklahoma debut in Sand Springs

The internationally-acclaimed Shiny Happy Blue Dog art exhibit made its Oklahoma debut Saturday evening at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum.

The paintings are the work of the late George Rodrigue, a Louisiana cajun who died in 2013. The blue dog is inspired by the loup-garou (cajun werewolf) and modeled after Rodrigue’s dog Tiffany. The series was used in ad campaigns by Absolut Vodka and Xerox Corporation in the early 1990s and can be seen in the Central Perk coffee shop on the hit television series Friends.

Rodrigue’s career began as a child after being diagnosed with polio. According to his widow, Wendy, his mother bought him a paint set to occupy his time while bedridden. His early work focused on the things he could no longer go out and see in person.

George and Wendy made a large effort to bring his art to schools and use it as an education tool, a mission continued by Wendy and her current husband Douglas Magnus, who was a lifelong friend of Rodrigue. Rodrigue also painted a series of vibrant blue dogs for children’s hospitals, giving the kids a bright distraction from their time in hospice. Those pieces are exclusive to children’s hospitals and do not make their way into museums or other showcases.

Rodrigue-Magnus tours the country with her late husband’s work, and visited several Tulsa-area elementary schools prior to the weekend opening, including Sand Springs’s Northwoods Fine Arts Academy. She also spoke at the Sand Springs Museum’s grand opening.

The exhibit will be open through February 17, 2019 and admission is free. The museum is located at 9 East Broadway in the historic downtown Triangle District. The 1929 art deco masterpiece is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still bears the “Page Memorial Library” designation on the outside.

Bringing the exhibit to Sand Springs was the idea of Northwoods Art Instructor Jennifer Fox Barretto, who spent the last year fundraising, advertising, and working behind the scenes to secure the event.

Museum Hours:
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Wednesday
1:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Thursday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday
12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturday
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Sunday

Bill Knight Auto partners with Sand Springs Education Foundation in Driven to Give Day

Bill Knight Lincoln donated $8,000 to the Sand Springs Education Foundation last year.

Bill Knight Lincoln donated $8,000 to the Sand Springs Education Foundation last year.

For the sixth time, the Sand Springs Education Foundation (SSEF) will partner with Bill Knight Auto for "Driven to Give Day." 

The event will be held on Saturday, October 20th, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Charles Page High School parking lot at 500 North Adams Road. This is a FREE event.

Participants, 18 years or older, can come and test drive a new Lincoln. For each test drive, the SSEF will receive $20. Participants are asked to fill out some basic information before the drive and immediately after the drive to complete the process and help secure the donation. NO obligation, NO sales, NO return contact unless the participant agrees.

What an easy way to come help the SSEF raise $8,000! All Sand Springs teachers are also encouraged to stop by and do a test drive and put their name in the drawing for $500 to use in their classroom. This year the SSEF will give away $500 to two district teachers. 

Sand Springs Board of Ed hands out awards at October meeting

Charles Page High School students August Nelson and Elizabeth Watts were presented with Sandite Spirit Awards at this Monday’s Board of Education meeting. The two juniors scored in the top 1% of ACT scores in the country and are National Merit Semi-Finalists. Nelson’s family accepted his award on his behalf as Nelson was busy competing with the Sandite Academic Team.

Cross Country coaches Mike Burdge, Virginia Williams, and Gloria Smith were presented with Pacesetter Awards for their work in organizing the Inaugural Case Cross Country Invitational. The successful 5K meet drew more than twenty teams and a thousand runners from across the state.

Clyde Boyd Middle School teacher Kenneth Cole was presented with a Coin of Excellence to go along with the two awards he recently received at the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Flight Night STEM Expo.

In other news:

The district is still looking to fill a vacant Special Education position at Central Ninth Grade Center.

Beloved CPHS biology teacher Bo Jestice has resigned and is moving to Colorado.

Hometown philanthropist Montie Box recently made a large donation to send Sand Springs elementary students to Biztown, a simulated city ran by Junior Achievement of Tulsa.

Board of Ed recognizes Susan Cox for donating kidney to CPHS cheer coach

Sand Springs Board of Education member Rusty Gun (left) and Charles Page High School Cheer Coach Carrie Schlehueber (center) present Susan Cox (right) with a Pacesetter Award.   Click here to view full photo gallery.

Sand Springs Board of Education member Rusty Gun (left) and Charles Page High School Cheer Coach Carrie Schlehueber (center) present Susan Cox (right) with a Pacesetter Award.

Click here to view full photo gallery.

The Sand Springs Board of Education handed out a handful of awards at their September meeting.

Susan Cox was presented with a Pacesetter Award for donating a kidney to Head Cheer Coach Carrie Schlehueber. Cox is the Director at DaySpring Villa, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.

Board of Ed member Rusty Gunn described Cox as “someone who is selfless in their life,” even before donating her kidney.

According to Gunn, Cox heard that Schlehueber was in need of a kidney and went in to find out if she was a match without even being asked. “That kidney was always hers,” said Cox. “I was just holding it for her.”

Schlehueber is expected to return to work on October 1st.

The Charles Page High School Student Council was presented with a Sandite Spirit Award for their work prior to the 2018-2019 school year, decorating the hallways and working around the school every day in the week before the year began. The Council consists of Stephanie Ayala, Logan Bateman, Caleb Bundy, Katie Gonzales, Chloe Graves, Savana McCabe, Abigail McGehee, Emily Phifer, and Kristen Taylor.

“When you see these kids that are here tonight, you see that public education works,” said CPHS history/leadership teacher Frank Cooper. “Every one of these kids is a product of public school education and they are competitive, academically motivated, engaged, enthusiastic.”

The Sand Springs Rotary Club was presented with a Sandite Pacesetter Award for helping to provide school supplies to teachers. The Rotary Club also hosted a luncheon recently for new teachers and gave every new teacher $70 worth of gift cards to local restaurants.

Sheila Bright was presented with a Pacesetter Award for offering her facilities at Bright Morning Farm to the school faculty for a conference before the school year began. Not only did Bright provide her facilities for two days free of charge, she also brought in a yoga instructor on day two.

Kevin Stitt, Jadine Nollan win Republican nominations in runoff

Four-term incumbent Jadine Nollan won the Republican nomination for House District 66 in a runoff Tuesday evening, defeating Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson.

With all precincts reporting, Nollan defeated Jackson with 59.87% of the 3,125 total ballots cast. Jackson received 1,254 votes. 

Nollan is a Sand Springs native, Charles Page High School and Oklahoma State University alumni, and former Sand Springs Board of Education President. She will meet Democratic nominee Angela Graham in the November election.

Gateway Mortgage executive Kevin Stitt defeated former Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett with 54.56% of 302,077 ballots for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Former Party Chair Chris Powell won the Libertarian Party nomination with 59.07% of 926 votes over Rex Lawhorn. They will meet Democratic nominee Drew Edmondson in the general election.

Matt Pinnell defeated Dana Murphy with 58.14% of the vote for the Lieutenant Governor nomination. State Senator Anastasia Pittman secured the Democratic nomination in June and the two will also face Independent Dr. Ivan Holmes, former chair of the State Democratic Party. 

Cindy Byrd defeated Charlie Prater in a close race with 50.17% for the State Auditor and Inspector Republican nomination. She will face Libertarian nominee John Yeutter.

Incumbent Mike Hunter won a close race for the Attorney General nomination with 50.05% over Gentner Drummond. He will face Democratic nominee Mark Myles.

Incumbent Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister handily fended off Linda Murphy with 56.68% of the vote. She will face Democratic nominee Dr. John Cox and Independent Dr. Larry Huff. 

Leslie Osborn defeated Cathy Costello with 52.35% of votes for the Commissioner of Labor nomination. She will face Democrat Fred Dorrell and Independent Brandt Dismukes. 

Bob Anthony attained 53.61% of the vote for the Corporation Commissioner Republican nomination over Brian Bingman. Ashley McCray won the Democratic nomination with 65.08% over Blake Cummings. They will face Independent Jackie Short in November. 

McDonald's franchisee Kevin Hern defeated former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris with 54.92% of the vote in the U.S. Representative Republican runoff for District 1. Tim Gilpin won the Democratic nomination with 59.38% over Amanda Douglas. 

Incumbent Republican District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler defended his nomination against Ben Fu with 56.61% of the vote in District 14. He will face Democrat Jenny Proehl-Day in November. 

Free Back 2 School Bash today at Tulsa Tech


The Sand Springs Ministerial Alliance’s annual Back 2 School Bash is set to kick off at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, August 12th at the Tulsa Tech Sand Springs Campus. 

In addition to fun activities like inflatables and food, there will also be free backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, dental checkups, and flu shots.  

The celebration will last from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 924 East Charles Page Boulevard. 

Board of Ed formally approves teacher pay raise schedule, district struggles with recruiting

The Sand Springs Board of Education formally voted Monday evening to enact a new teacher pay schedule in accordance with House Bill 1023XX. 

In March the Oklahoma legislature approved a historic $447 million tax hike to help fund public school teacher salaries. Salaries for Oklahoma teachers will increase anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 this school year.

State Representative Jadine Nollan used the opportunity to remind the crowd of the many previous pay raise attempts that failed to pass either the legislature or state ballots. "Tonight, for me, is a very special night," said Nollan. 

The Sand Springs Women’s Chamber was presented with a Pacesetter Award in recognition of a $4,500 donation they made to the district. The Women’s Chamber is dedicated to promoting children’s literacy in Sand Springs.

Charles Page High School sophomore Sean Kuehn was presented with a Sandite Spirit Award for his involvement in the Technology Student Association. TSA is a student-led organization focused on preparing students for the work force. Kuehn previously won the TSA National Championship in Public Speaking at the National Conference in Atlanta.

Gary Watts was presented with a Coin of Excellence for his work in the district. Watts has worked with SSPS since 1990 and was previously Chief Financial Officer for the district.

Student safety was a large topic of conversation. The district will be assigning Student ID badges for grades 6-12 beginning this school year that will be mandatory at all times. “We’re not atypical, most 6A schools do that,” said Superintendent Sherry Durkee.

Durkee says the district is also working with the Sand Springs Police Department to stage an intruder drill at the high school this year. 

The Board approved an Interlocal Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with the police department to help pay for a school resource officer for the upcoming school year.

"That officer will be on district site during the day, all the time," said Durkee. 

SEE RELATED: City Council approves SSPD Resource Officer for Sand Springs Public Schools

Durkee also addressed the continuing statewide teacher shortage. The passage of HB1023XX is intended to help stem the shortage, but thousands of Oklahoma teachers have already left for neighboring states in recent years.

Prior to the pay raise, Oklahoma teachers were at the bottom of the nation in average pay and some Texas school districts have been openly recruiting Oklahoma teachers with billboards in the Oklahoma City metro area. 

Last week the Oklahoma State Department of Education approved 853 emergency teaching certifications, bringing the total number for 2018-2019 to 1,238. Last year they approved a record 1,975. Emergency certifications last for two years and allow schools to employ instructors who aren't traditionally qualified with a state teaching license. 

"Out district today now employs ten emergency certified teachers," said Durkee. "We've struggled a little bit for the first time with hiring teachers and having staff ready to go in August." Specifically two special education positions have remained open until this week. "I think at this point the district is fully staffed, which is a good thing. I was sweating a little bit up until literally today."

The district is also trying to reestablish some positions that were previously eliminated due to budget constraints, state revenue failures, and funding cuts. "Over the course of the last two years, through attrition, we let go of over fifty positions from administration to maintenance, custodial, and paraprofessionals. We are slowly but surely trying to recapture some of those positions," said Durkee. "This year we will be reinstituting two library media specialists, one teacher at Northwoods, a science teacher at Charles Page High School, and a paraprofessional at ECEC."

"I feel like we've made a turn for the better, but caution is always the best way to move forward."

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java unveils new "Little Free Library"

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java added a new "Little Free Library" to their Sand Springs snow cone stand Tuesday.

The miniature outdoor library is accessible at all hours and runs on an honor system. Readers of all ages are encouraged to take a book or leave a book that they have finished reading.

According to the Children's Literacy Foundation, 61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate children's books in their homes. The Little Free Library organization aims to help the low-income community share their resources and encourage reading.

The Harper's Hut library is an official Little Free Library and also contains books for adults and teens as well. 

The Harper's Hut library is the third little library in Sand Springs. Other locations are 11 South Vermeer Ave and 4201 South Walnut Creek Drive.

Sand Springs has two public libraries, but they are only open 53 hours a week, most of which conflicts with school or work for many people. The 24/7 self-help model of little libraries offers an alternative for children in desperate need of literature.

Harper's Hut is a Sand Springs company with half a dozen locations in the Tulsa metropolitan area. The original Sand Springs stand was opened in 2014 by William Nozak and is located at 1124 East Charles Page Boulevard.

Harper's can also be found at the Case Community Park splash pad and at 3110 South 65th West Avenue in Berryhill. Nozak says he is also working on a little library for the Berryhill location.

City Council approves SSPD Resource Officer for Sand Springs Public Schools

The Sand Springs City Council approved a $34,211.00 expenditure to provide a School Resource Officer for the Sand Springs Public School District at Monday night's regular monthly meeting.

Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter said the proposal was partly a response to school shootings across the country and partly an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of students. In addition to providing security, the SRO will also oversee the department's truancy program.

"We're one of the few communities that has a truancy program," says Carter. "It's not about just writing citations, it's about finding out if there's other family dynamics that are causing that student to miss school. Besides the lost education opportunity, we may find other problems that are happening with that student in that family."

The department has a history of providing school resource officers, and at one point had as many as three. Eventually economic downturn left the department with dwindling resources and the position was eliminated about five years ago.

In other news:

Council approved a dilapidation public nuisance resolution ordering the demolition of 400 North Cleveland Avenue on or after September 5th if the property owner does not begin repairs.

Council renewed a ten-year tax incentive agreement between the City of Sand Springs and Reasor's LLC. The City recruited the grocery store chain to Sand Springs in 2011 through a $2 million incentive, creating more than sixty jobs at the long-vacant Wal Mart facility in Prattville.

Council accepted a $65,045 bid from Tim Mills Fence Company for 6,400 feet of white vinyl fence. The company will have until October 1 to complete the installation along the city's highway corridors. 

Council approved the purchase of a Toro Reelmaster mower for the City sports fields. The $55,027.93 mower will be funded initially by the City but will be reimbursed over a three-year period by the Baseball, Soccer, and Softball organizations who lease the parks. 

Council approved a $188,702.47 contract with L&M Office Furniture to furnish the new Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center. 

Council approved a $113,387.00 contract with Southwest Solutions to purchase storage lockers, explosive cabinets, high density shelving, gun lockers, armory storage cabinets, etc. for the new Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center.

Following the Council meeting, the Sand Springs Municipal Authority approved $99,547.24 to purchase two new Toro Greenaster 3150-Q lawn mowers and a Toro Workman utility vehicle for the Canyons at Blackjack Ridge golf course.