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AM NewsBrief: July 8, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, July 8, 2024.

New Statewide Charter School Board Meets Monday

Oklahoma’s new school board charged with overseeing the future contract of the nation’s first private charter school meets on Monday.

The Statewide Charter School Board will oversee almost half of Oklahoma’s charter schools.

It was created to consolidate and take oversight duties away from the State Department of Education and Oklahoma’s virtual charter school board.

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently operated. They are accredited by the State Department of Education but are exempt from certain requirements. For example, they can hire teachers without a valid state teaching certificate.

State lawmakers created this new board following issues with schools overseen by the state’s virtual charter board and the State Board of Education.

The board’s first task is discussing the nation’s first private Catholic charter school, St. Isidore.

That school hit a snag when Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled it improperly mixed church and state.

State Health Department Seeks Public Input on WIC Nutrition Program Operations

The state Health Department's Woman, Infants and Children program is seeking input on the operations of its nutrition program.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program provides food, nutrition education and health care referrals to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women and their children up to age five. Now, the program wants Oklahomans to share their personal experiences with it as the state submits its operations plan to the federal government.

Over 72,000 Oklahomans participate in the program every month. The program hopes to share these experiences with the federal government to attract funding and use them to help shape how it will operate in the next fiscal year.

Oklahomans can submit their comments to the State Department of Health’s website or by mail through Aug. 1.

Oklahoma City Council Approves Expansion of Bus Rapid Transit System

Following the grand opening of Oklahoma City’s first Bus Rapid Transit route late last year, an expansion of the system is being greenlit.

Last week, the Oklahoma City Council approved a 17-mile long BRT route connecting the Adventure District in the northeastern part of the city and the industrial logistics hub in the southern part of the city.

The existing BRT route — which has buses arriving every 12-15 minutes — operates in the northwestern part of the city. Buses on BRT routes have dedicated lanes and get priority at street lights.

In a press release, city officials said the new route will have 26 stop locations with northbound and southbound stations. It’s expected to serve 2,700 weekday riders.

MAPS 4 has $61 million set aside for the construction, which is scheduled to begin in 2028.

Benjamin Harjo Junior’s Artwork on Display at OSU Museum of Art

Benjamin Harjo Junior’s artwork is now on display at the OSU Museum of Art.

Benjamin Harjo Junior was an Absentee Shawnee and Seminole artist who some have described as the “Picasso of Native American Art.”

In a decade-old interview with retired OSU art professor Chris Ramsay, he joked that his portraits colored outside the lines of traditional teachings during his classes at the university.

“I know that I upset the model on several occasions because when she would peek around my drawing board, the drawings would look nothing like her," Harjo Junior said.

As Harjo Junior noted, his visual art is often abstract catching the eye of private collectors and museums alike.

More than 86 of his original pieces are now on display at the “Benjamin Harjo Junior: From Here to There” exhibit at the OSU art museum.

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