© 2024 KGOU
Oklahoma sunset
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

AM NewsBrief: Feb. 1, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.

Oklahoma Teachers May Not Have To Return Errant Bonuses, Walters Says

State Superintendent Ryan Walters says teachers who mistakenly received bonuses may not have to repay them.

In a press conference Wednesday, Walters said that the Oklahoma State Department of Education is exploring alternative solutions for teachers who received erroneous signing bonuses. He said this could involve longer contractual commitments in exchange for keeping the money.

Oklahoma Watch and StateImpact Oklahoma were the first to report the agency’s repayment demands. Their reporting found the agency mistakenly paid $290,000 in bonuses across nine teachers. Walters claimed the error involved only four teachers, accusing the media of spreading misinformation. Reporters from both news outlets said at the press conference they stand by their reporting.

Teachers have sued Walters for defamation for his claims of misinformation on their applications.

Education policy leaders in the state House and Senate have urged the Education Department to find another solution.

Walters On TPS

After almost half a year of threats against Tulsa Public Schools, State Superintendent Ryan Walters has changed his tone about the district

Walters first praised TPS Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson’s efforts to improve student performance after her monthly presentation to the state board of education in December. He continued his praise of Johnson following a tour of Monroe Demonstration Academy on Wednesday.

"I’m gonna be critical if kids aren’t learning as well as I think, but I’m also going to give credit where credit’s due when I see those performances like we’re seeing here," Walters said.

Walters and the state board have ordered Johnson and the district to train all teachers and school administrators in the science of reading and increase the number of students testing “basic” on state English Language Arts.

The demands follow Johnson taking over the district from former superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist after Walters threatened to lower TPS’ accreditation and possibly take over the district.

Commissioners Eye New Location For OK Co. Jail

Oklahoma County Commissions are looking into another possible location for the new jail.

At their meeting Wednesday, commissioners are eyeing land near Will Rogers Airport, not far from a previously rejected site.

Commissioners are divided over the proposed site. The property faces environmental challenges, including certified wetlands—and proximity to FAA offices raises concerns about rejection. An environmental assessment is underway.

Other potential locations are still on the list, including the highly contested site at SE 15th and Grand.

The commissioners’ next meeting is Monday.

Gas Pipeline Explosion In The Panhandle

A natural gas pipeline explosion spurt flames hundreds of feet in the air in Oklahoma’s Panhandle. Officials say the fire is extinguished, caused no injuries and is being investigated.

The fire started Tuesday night and was extinguished on Wednesday morning. Chris Stoppel could see it from Sublette, Kansas, more than 80 miles to the northwest.

"Just getting home from town. I’d been in town and was pulling in our driveway and I could see it glow," said Stoppel.

Local firefighters worked to stifle the blaze and Phillips 66 said in a statement it shut off a portion of the affected pipeline.

Trey Davis is a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. He says the incident involved a dead leg pipe, a smaller inactive offshoot of the larger main pipeline.


For additional news throughout the day visit our website, KGOU.org and follow us on social media.

We also invite you to subscribe to the KGOU PM NewsBrief.

Stay Connected