Oklahoma has gained 40,000 new students since 2008, but funding from the legislature hasn’t kept up with the growth. More students and less money means some schools are running out of space and have been dipping deep in to their savings accounts. They are making do, but it’s at a tipping point for some districts. Either they get more funding and add more space, or the class sizes get bigger and bigger.
THE NEED FOR MORE SPACE
Weatherford Public Schools in Custer County—Western Oklahoma—is bursting at the seams with kids. Normally, the district gets 20 new students a year, but lately they’ve been topping 100.
“We’ve filled up every closet, nook, and cranny in the district and we’re just at a point where we don’t have anymore space,” said Matt Holder, the Superintendent at Weatherford Public Schools.
For the past year now, many Americans have been hearing and reading about the 68,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed illegally into the U.S. Nearly all of these minors come from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, and since their arrival, immigration officials have released most of them to their parents or relatives who already live in this country.
A number of these children and teenagers are in deportation proceedings, but while they wait, they have been allowed to attend public schools. In Louisiana, schools have enrolled nearly 2,000 of them.
It was just released by the Department of Education. On it are the names of 556 colleges and universities that failed the department's "financial responsibility test."
Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell says that each school's finances are now being placed under a microscope because the government "had serious concerns about the financial integrity of the institution or its administrative capacity."
The On Tap discussion for March focused on the issue of School Choice with panelists Brandon Dutcher, with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and Ryan Owens with the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administrration.
Moderated by KOSU's Michael Cross, the event was cut short because of the storms.
According to a study out of UCLA, suspension rates at Oklahoma City Public Schools are some of the highest in the nation. Nearly half of the students in the district got suspended there in the 2011-2012 school year, according to this report.
The district Superintendent questions the report’s rankings, but doesn’t deny there is a discipline problem. He says they are already laying down plans to make major changes.
Between the 7th and 8th grades Caleb Walker got suspended four times. A couple times for fighting and a couple times for being a “silly boy” according to his mom.