We’re gearing up for session with interim studies and meetings with state agencies, organizations, the business community and constituents. I’ve been busy this month between events around the district and meetings at the Capitol.
At the beginning of the month, I had the pleasure of being on a panel to help select new FFA chapter officers at Central High School. We got to hear some fantastic speeches. As a former FFA member myself, I always enjoy hearing about the great things our local FFA students are doing to help their communities and the agricultural industry. I want to thank Mr. Curry for including me in this special event.
The Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee and the Appropriations Committee have heard three studies so far.
We looked at the rules and regulations of beef processing plants. Presentations were made by Dr. Rodney Holcomb, OSU Agricultural Economics Professor and Charles B. Browning Endowed Professorship in Food Science; Jake Nelson, Facilities Manager/Meat Processing Specialist at the OSU Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center; Shellie Chard, the Water Quality Division Director at the state Department of Environmental Quality; and Scott Yates, the Food Safety Division Director at the state Department of Agriculture.
In Appropriations, we looked at education funding and specifically bilingual funding, testing, qualifications, school procedures, transparency and accountability. Speakers included Matt Richmond, the Chief Operating Officer for EdBuild; Dan Ruhl, OSDE’s Executive Director of English Proficiency and Chris Berry, Oklahoma City Public School’s Director of Language and Cultural Services.
We also studied transportation funding in a changing virtual environment, funding for schools utilizing city transit systems and the 1.5-mile rule for transportation. Presenters included Monty Guthrie, Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Federal Programs; Ron Flanagan with Muldrow Public Schools; Jason Simeroth of Yukon Public Schools; NCSL Senior Fellow of Education, Daniel Thatcher, JD; and EdBuild COO Matt Richmond.
Two weeks ago, I joined Ag Secretary Arthur in presenting a meat processing grant check to 5th Avenue Cattle Processing in Sterling. In total, 40 locations statewide split $10 million in federal funds from the CARES Act to expand processing capacity. It’s important that we do all we can to support our local plants to get local products to stores as efficiently and quickly as possible.
We also had our monthly Caucus meeting to discuss interim studies and the upcoming session. We are currently working on our agenda and what issues we’re going to focus on in the 2021 session.
I also want to thank Chuck Wagner for asking me to speak at Duncan High School. We had a Q&A session with the students about how the legislative process works.
Last week, I joined Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Rachel Holt at the OJA facility in Manitou to work on future plans ensuring the continued success for that facility.
I also celebrated with Frederick Elementary School as they were designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School. This is a prestigious honor only awarded to the very best schools in the country. This year, a total of 367 schools were named including six Oklahoma schools.
Frederick Elementary was recognized as an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School meaning they are among the state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between their student groups and all students. Student assessment scores, subgroup scores and graduation rates were used to determine this year’s winners.
Congratulations to the teachers, administrators, faculty, parents and students of this wonderful community and school system. This award not only reflects on the tremendous education system but the parents who are engaged in their children’s schooling and success.
Thank you again for the privilege of serving our district and the State of Oklahoma in the Senate. If I can be of any assistance, you can reach me at (405) 521-5563 or Chris.Kidd@oksenate.gov.