The Peggs school sits near the end of a forelorn stretch of Hickory Road in Peggs, Oklahoma, population 813. Peggs Superintendent John Cox is drawing criticism for taking $141,678 in yearly salary from the Peggs district.
(Editor’s Note: This is in circulation from a site entitled The Waterloo Republic without further identity.)
Democrat John Cox repeatedly failed to remedy multiple audit reports showing his school district to be out of compliance with Oklahoma State Department of Education standards.
These findings were published in the Peggs school district’s annual audit for the 2011 fiscal year. In his citation, CPA Alan Chapman wrote that “the combined financial statements referred to above do not include the general fixed asset account group, which should be included in order to conform with accounting and financial reporting regulations prescribed or permitted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.”
Following the release of the report, the district appears to have taken limited or no action to remedy the findings as Chapman incorporated a similar citation in his audits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
The reporting of the general fixed asset account group accounts for the property, plant and the equipment owned by the district. Without this accounting the true financial picture becomes skewed.
Deprived of this information, Chapman did not include any accounting of the district’s capital assets such as buildings, land, furniture and equipment or construction in progress leaving local taxpayers unable to quantify the true value of the district’s holdings.
This type of citation isn’t uncommon for small districts such as Peggs some of which appear to show little inclination to come into compliance with the accounting standards.
Few doubt that Cox, who has been employed as the Superintendent of the Peggs school district, for the past 20 years, represents Oklahoma Democrats’ best chance to score a victory on next month’s general election ballot.
The disclosure of the audit findings join an array of concerns which have been raised by leading Republicans and Cox’s general election opponent Joy Hofmeister.
Hofmeister and state legislators Todd Thomsen and Lee Denney are publically questioning Cox’s salary of $141,678 per year; an amount purportedly nearly twice the state average for an administrator and especially questionable considering Peggs appears to employ just 15 faculty members.
State records show Cox receiving just $115,347 per year as recently as 2011.
Those wanting to identify and hold Peggs school board members to account for Cox’s sudden rise in pay shouldn’t attempt to use the Peggs website; the names of school board members are not posted.
State Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston has criticized Cox for the failure of the Peggs website to comply with the 2001 era state law which mandates the placement of meeting agendas and the names of school board members. On October 10th, Cox responded with the defense, “While the site is live, it is still under construction. We will work immediately to get our agendas, etc. up on the site”.
As of October 25th, the site hadn’t been updated.
Records show the current Peggs site was initially registered in 2012. The first recorded content appeared on July 1st of 2013 according to the Web archiving site, The Wayback Machine.
As State Superintendent, Cox would preside over a large Web presence with numerous transparency components including Oklahoma’s OCAS financial accounting system.
Voters will go to the polls on November 4th.
Republican Joy Hofmeister continues to target opponent John Cox’s huge salary as a school superintendent as they battle to become the state’s new superintendent of public instruction:
Senate President Pro-Tempore Brian Bingman today endorsed Joy Hofmeister, and said she’s the perfect leader to advocate for educators in Oklahoma and to address the teacher shortage.
“Due to the force of her personality, and tenacity, she can build the coalitions necessary to address the teacher shortage in Oklahoma while also strengthening standards and improving our educational system,” said Bingman.
“She is a classroom teacher, has run a business, served on the state Board of Education and has the broad scope of experience necessary to manage a state agency.
“Most importantly, she has the support of educators across Oklahoma. Educators helped to recruit Joy Hofmeister to run for state superintendent after she stood courageously and advocated on their behalf. She is willing to be a good listener and ask the right questions.
“We have to address the teacher shortage, and I need Joy to help lead the effort to improve job satisfaction for our Oklahoma educators,” he said.
Hofmeister said she’s honored to have the endorsement of Senator Bingman, and looks forward to working with him to improve compensation for teachers.
“To be effective, you have to be willing to work with legislative leaders who have the authority to make policy and budget decisions. That is just a fact. Senator Bingman helped to reverse the decline in education funding last year and has always advocated for our public schools,” Hofmeister said.
Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman Endorses Hofmeister;
Two Pledge to Solve State’s Teacher Shortage
Oklahoma Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman today endorsed Joy Hofmeister for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and said she’s the right leader at the right time to start addressing Oklahoma’s teacher shortage.
“We face serious issues in education, and we started in my first session as House Speaker by prioritizing school funding,” Hickman said. “I now need Joy as a partner to start addressing Oklahoma’s teacher shortage and to make classroom instruction in public schools a priority.
“Joy Hofmeister has proved herself to be a strong advocate for teachers and public education, including rural schools, important to my district in Northwest Oklahoma. She is the candidate who already has relationships with leaders in the Legislature, who will listen to her and work with her to bring about substantive change.
“In the tradition of independent leaders like Governor Henry Bellmon, Joy Hofmeister had the courage to stand alone as a member of the State Board of Education to oppose policies with which she disagreed. Public education needs Joy Hofmeister right now more than ever, and it’s critical she is elected.”
Hofmeister said she’s honored to have Speaker Hickman’s endorsement.
“Jeff Hickman has always been a friend to public schools, and to bring about needed changes, we have to build coalitions starting with people who are our friends,” said Hofmeister. “Now that Jeff Hickman is the Speaker of the House, we are in a strong position to achieve the change we all know is needed.
“As the next state superintendent, my first priority will be to develop a plan to increase job compensation and job satisfaction for our state’s teachers,” Hofmeister said. “The teachers are treasures for Oklahoma and every day they are fostering the potential of our young people. How can we expect them to do so when morale is at an all-time low? I look forward to working with Speaker Hickman to develop a strong plan to move forward. I’m very optimistic.
“To the teachers of Oklahoma, I say ‘we can get this done!’ and Speaker Hickman’s support is a very big step in the right direction,” Hofmeister said.
Rep. James Lankford today endorsed fellow Republican Joy Hofmeister in her bid to become Oklahoma’s next State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“Joy Hofmeister is a mom, a strong conservative, and an experienced educator with a passion for students, teachers and families. I trust her to work collaboratively to promote higher standards, to increase graduation rates and have a positive impact on the schools in our state,” Lankford said.
“I am honored to endorse Joy for State Superintendent, and I look forward to working with her for the future of Oklahoma,” Lankford said.
Hofmeister said she was pleased to have Lankford’s support.
“It’s an honor to have the endorsement of a visionary leader like Congressman Lankford. Oklahoma is focused on education like no other time in our state’s history, and I am hopeful that together we can address our challenges and create a stronger public education system,” she said.
Hofmeister is a former classroom teacher, educator, and small business owner serving thousands of Oklahoma families for more than 15 years. She was also a member of the Oklahoma State Board of Education.
For nearly two decades, Hofmeister supported her local Parent Teacher Association and has been a member of the Jenks Public Schools Foundation.
The general election is Tuesday, November 4.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi and senior staff from the State Department of Education (SDE) asked for immediate reinstatement of Oklahoma’s flexibility waiver from No Child Left Behind in a conference call late Monday with high-level officials from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).
“With word from the state Regents for Higher Education last week that our current state standards in English and math are indeed considered college- and career-ready, we have asked USDE for an immediate decision to return flexibility to Oklahoma schools,” Barresi said. “Such flexibility would come in the expenditure of federal funds and the removal of the burdensome federal requirements that exist under No Child Left Behind.”
The SDE will now begin the process of resubmitting the waiver request.
USDE rejected Oklahoma’s waiver extension request in August, saying the state was unable to demonstrate state standards were college- and career-ready. The decision came after a repeal of Common Core State Standards in English and math with the passage of House Bill 3399. The legislation directed the state to revert to Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards in the two subject areas, which had been in place prior to Common Core’s adoption in 2010.
When HB 3399 was signed into law in June, the SDE immediately asked the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education to help determine if PASS standards could be considered college- and career-ready. One of the definitions of such status is based on state college remediation rates, which in Oklahoma have hovered at about the 40th percentile for years.
On Oct. 16, the Regents announced that a study of PASS standards revealed that if students achieve mastery of the standards they could be considered college and career-ready.
The State Board of Education, in the meantime, is overseeing the process of writing new state standards in English and math. The standards are to be in place by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
George Faught, Republican candidate in House District 14, today announced that he has been endorsed by several prominent state and local educators, including former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett, a Democrat.
“As former State Superintendent and a teacher, I had the opportunity to work with many leaders across this State. George Faught is one of those leaders who works hard and has earned people’s trust. As a State Representative, George worked tirelessly for local schools and teachers,” said Sandy Garrett, who served as State Superintendent from 1991 to 2011. ”George is committed to helping the next generation succeed with a quality education. Join me in helping re-elect my former student, George Faught, to the State House.” Garrett taught in Muskogee for 15 years, and was Faught’s first-grade teacher.
“George Faught will be a great representative who listens to the people of his district. He is a strong and proven leader. George supports local control of education and will work to give teachers more time to teach by stopping the excessive testing of students,” said Linda Murphy, former Education Advisor to Governor Frank Keating.
“George Faught has the experience needed to be the voice of House District 14. He cares about Oklahoma’s children and will ensure they receive the best possible education. George possesses the moral compass we need in Oklahoma City,” said Muskogee teacher Lorie Alexander. “Deeply devoted to his family and directed by his faith, George is a man of integrity you can trust with your vote.” In 2013 Alexander received recognition as the top Elementary Teacher in the state by Professional Oklahoma Educators and was given the ‘Elementary Educator Merit’ Award.
Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.), also endorsed Faught’s campaign for re-election. ”I support George Faught for State House District 14 because of his strong stance on local control of education and the rights of parents to educate their children in the way they deem best for that child. In 2012, Rep. Faught sponsored Parental Rights legislation that clearly delineated the role of parents as the primary decision makers for their children. We need more Representatives at the state level willing to guard and protect the rights of parents – especially today, as we continue to fight to keep Oklahoma ‘Common Core’ free.”
White continued, “Though not a member of the House when historic HB3399 (the repeal of Common Core in Oklahoma) was passed, Rep. Faught voted against the initial legislation in 2010 that led to Common Core, and supported our fight to stop Common Core. We will need his advocacy as our new standards are written and the federal government continues to bribe states to educate Oklahoma kids their way. Please help me elect George Faught to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.” White and her organization played a key role in advocating for the successful repeal of Common Core in Oklahoma.
“George Faught has been an advocate for National Board Certified Teachers and achieving excellence in our schools. He has supported teacher pay increases and common sense reforms. George Faught has a strong conviction to do what is right for Oklahoma,” said Alicia Rodgers, Fort Gibson teacher.
“I am honored to have the endorsement of these outstanding educators,” said Faught. “It shows that Education isn’t about partisan politics, but about preparing the next generation of Oklahoma’s leaders. We must work together to make it happen. The investment we make in Education today will determine the future of our state tomorrow.”
Republican schools superintendent candidate Joy Hofmeister is Sunday’s guest on The Verdict.
The show airs on Cox Channels 3 and 703 in Oklahoma City and in Tulsa Sunday at 9:00 a.m., and repeats Monday at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.