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AM NewsBrief: Sept. 29, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

Former Oklahoma City charter school superintendent facing felony embezzlement charges

A former Oklahoma City charter school superintendent is facing felony embezzlement charges. The charges against the former leader of the Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy.

Former superintendent Janet Grigg is accused of embezzling more than $250,000.

Charging documents first reported by online news outlet Nondoc echo the findings of an investigative audit released by State Auditor and Inspector General Cindy Byrd late last year.

Byrd accused Grigg of giving herself and upper level staff more than $210,000 in unapproved bonuses and spending more than $40,000 on personal expenses.

The defunct charter school was founded in 1998 as an alternative school for at-risk students. It closed in 2019 amid concerns about its finances.

Lawmakers expected to allocate nearly $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds by Friday

Legislators are continuing to meet during a special session today to spend a bulk of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act money.

Broadband upgrades make up most of the state’s spending plan — with lawmakers planning to spend $382 million to make sure more Oklahomans have access to reliable Internet.

Senate Floor Leader Greg McCortney of Ada explains how ARPA projects we’re decided.

“One of the biggest things that we want to make sure we do is that we do not use these one-time funds in a way that is going to cause continuous spending.”

Even though lawmakers plan to allocate the money by Friday, there are still lots of details to work out before people in the state see results.

For example, a State Broadband office will oversee that expansion, but the office hasn’t been set up yet.

OKCPS announces new video and film program

Oklahoma City Public Schools announced a new film and video production education program Wednesday.

The program, known as Scissortail Studios, gives students a chance to work with industry professionals while learning about video and film production in the classroom. It is a partnership between the school district and the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma.

District Superintendent Sean McDaniel says he wants students to find something they love that they can do for a living and stay in Oklahoma.

The program has already started at both Douglass and Northwest Classen high schools. Officials said Capitol Hill High School will be joining the film and video program, with others in the district soon to follow.

Signs pop up in Oklahoma City encouraging people to 'close the library'

Mysterious signs have been popping up in the Oklahoma City metro this week calling on residents to vote to close the library on election day and attend a “book burning party.” They appear to borrow from a Michigan campaign in reverse psychology.

The signs’ message is simple: close the library and come on down to a book burning party.

That’s the exact goal of a 2012 ad campaign in Troy, Michigan that encouraged people to support a local tax increase to keep their local library open. The successful, award winning campaign used reverse psychology, too.

In the likely case that’s what’s going on here, the Metropolitan Library System’s Communications Director Angel Suhrstedt says it isn’t exactly helpful.

"We live in a confusing time. I don't want to make anyone any more confused."

To be clear there’s nothing on the ballot this November related to the library system. And a message with the Facebook page owner advertised on the sign makes it clear that it’s more a commentary on the state superintendent’s race.

New Google app helps preserve tribal language

The Citizen Potawatomi Language will get a boost thanks to a new language learning app created by Google.

A new app called Woolaroo uses AI technology to scan objects and give the translation in real time. Justin Neely, Citizen Potawatomi's language director partnered with Google to help with the translation and a word database users can access through their phones. He said the software company gave him a list of the 3500 of the most googled words and he started from there.

"They made it a point to tell me that they understood that we may not have all these words in our language. Our language is a very descriptive language in nature, so it really wasn't that difficult to describe different concepts that we didn't have an earlier word for."

The app also translates objects in 17 other languages including the Kumeyaay/Digueno language of people living along Baja California.

Currently, there are less than 5 Potawatomi first language speakers and between 15-20 second language speakers.

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