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#OKCEd Briefs: Health center proposed, board punts lease from pro team

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A rendering of a proposed health and wellness center next to Parmalee Elementary. (Provided0
  • A rendering of a proposed health and wellness center next to Parmalee Elementary. (Provided0

A health and wellness center near Parmalee Elementary could help improve the low health outcomes common in south Oklahoma City, say officials with the OKC-County Health Department.

During a presentation at Monday’s Oklahoma City school board meeting, Gary Cox, executive director of the health department, said his agency would like to build a health and wellness center in south Oklahoma City, similar to the center already located near MLK Elementary in the northeast.

“This is a really exciting design,” Superintendent Rob Neu said about the proposed campus at Parmalee.

In addition to housing a clinic, food pantry and meeting space, the proposed southside center would include a community garden and athletic fields.

“There’s been a lot of research that shows us there is very clear correlation between educational attainment and health and wellness,” Cox told Oklahoma Gazette. “We think we really have mutual interests and mutual benefits with the school district.”

Cox said the health department relies on data to determine which communities it seeks to put new wellness centers in. Seven OKC schools currently have health department programs and that number is expected to double next school year, Cox said.

Bounty Hunters lease rejected

Board member Bob Hammack became heated during Monday’s meeting when he said the district had not been fair in its dealing with a semi-professional football team.

The Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters had requested a lease agreement to use Speegle Stadium at Capitol Hill High School for its home games next season, but Superintendent Neu recommended denial, which the board - except for Hammack - agreed to follow .

The district had offered a list of things the football team would need to have done to the stadium, which team officials systematically denied as necessary when addressing the board. There was also some concern that getting the stadium ready for the Bounty Hunters could delay the opening of the stadium, which is undergoing renovations.

“The Bounty Hunters have other options but I'm not sure we do,” Ron Millican said.

The board voted 7-1 to reject the lease agreement. Hammack, who shouted out “sorry for wasting your time” to team officials as they left the board chambers, was the lone vote in favor of the lease.

Lighthouse approved

Lighthouse Academies will open a pre-K through eighth grade charter school next year after receiving approval from the board Monday.

The school will begin serving up to fourth grade students, expanding each year following, a school official said.

The charter school’s application was before the board last month, but was not approved after district staff said they wanted to see it open on the south side where there is overcrowding. After a few adjustments, including a commitment to put the school in south Oklahoma City, the school board gave it unanimous approval.

Board member Ruth Veales, who wanted the charter in northeast OKC, said she had been assured help is on the way for her ward and supported Lighthouse.

Science curriculum

District officials told the board work was underway to strengthen the district’s science curriculum, including efforts to provide district-wide professional development to adopt new instructional programs and the establishment of a Biology Foundations Academy for teachers.

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