Dr. Kevin Kloesel, Director at Oklahoma Climatological Survey – Weather Patterns in Oklahoma;
Superintendent Cindy Swearingen, Beggs Public Schools – Emergency Plans for Public Schools;
Brian Orr, Structural Engineer with Safe Design Group – What is a Storm Shelter/Safe Room & How the FEMA Process Works; and
Albert Ashwood, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
I look forward to a healthy discussion on the topic of overall school safety, not just storm shelters or protection against terrorist activities, such as shooters. I know this issue weighs heavy on the minds of many parents, so I hope this bipartisan effort to come up with solutions will result in something that will get us to the end result.
My other study is contingent on the release of the governor’s work on reviewing state employee pay and benefits. State employees have not seen an overall pay raise in seven years for the 33,000 workers on the payroll. Kenning Consulting, a private firm, was awarded a $77,000 contract to provide technical assistance and develop recommendations by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the main financial agency serving the governor. The House of Representatives appropriations chairman is holding the date for my study, along with a counterpart request by Rep. Leslie Osborn, until the governor’s findings are released.
One example of why this is important is law enforcement. The Department of Public Safety currently ranks 25th in the state on law enforcement department starting pay. This means, municipalities such as Edmond, Moore, Norman, Durant, Lawton and McAlester all pay more to first year officers than what Oklahoma State Troopers receive. There is no incentive for these officers to work for the state when their pay and hours are better working for a municipality, especially with the discussions currently being held to lessen benefits for future state employee retirement. I will keep you posted on this topic in future columns.