Education Funding

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Education leaders in Oklahoma say Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive order on school consolidation oversimplified a very complicated issue.

The November 21 order directs school districts that don’t spend at least 60 percent of their budget on instruction to consolidate administrative staff with other districts. A strict interpretation of this rule would force most Oklahoma school districts to cut an administrator, or a support staff person, and then find a way to split that cost with a neighboring district.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel talk about Governor Fallin vetoing a budget bill and telling lawmakers they would have to return for a second special session and then turning around and calling on common and higher education officials to find efficiencies in their budgets to include possible consolidation of schools.

The trio also discusses the 8.8% pay cut by the Legislative Compensation Commission and a signature petition to increase teacher pay in Oklahoma City comes up short.

CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES

A new report shows Oklahoma's per-pupil education funding has dropped more over the last decade than any other state.

The report says Oklahoma’s per-pupil school funding has decreased by 28 percent since 2008. In other words: the state is spending about $1,000 dollars, per-child, less than it did 10 years ago.

Governor Mary Fallin issued an executive order Tuesday directing the State Board of Education to consolidate some school district administrations.

First, Fallin wants the State Board of Education to compile a list of school districts that spend less than 60 percent of their budget on classroom instruction.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The wind blows strong and steady in Calumet, a small town about 40 miles west of Oklahoma City.

It’s the wind that’s prompted companies to build turbines here. A natural gas company also built a plant nearby.

In northeastern Oklahoma, Google built a large data center in Pryor. And the city of Cushing is flanked by fields of large steel tanks that hold millions of barrels of oil.

These industries bring in abundant property tax revenue for nearby schools — enough that 37 districts don’t receive any funding from the state.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City Public School Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution on Monday that gives district leadership the green light to pursue a lawsuit against the state.

Board members say lawmakers are not adequately funding education and they hope legal action changes that.

The resolution says legislative leaders don’t give schools enough money to do what is required of them by law, and therefore have failed to comply with their constitutional responsibility to fund public education.

A version of this story was first posted by member station WBEZ.

State money to public schools across Illinois could be cut off due to yet another budget impasse between lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner.

On Tuesday, Rauner, a Republican, partially vetoed a bill to overhaul the state's school funding formula, denouncing it a "bailout" of Chicago Public Schools.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Victor A. Pozadas

A new report from the Brookings Institution says Oklahoma City is positioned for growth. It says the city has a solid layer of infrastructure essential for development — and diversifying the economy.

But there’s a threat to this development, and that’s a potentially weak workforce. Some researchers say local officials need to ensure schools provide the training innovative companies need. And they need to be doing it now.

About exactly a year ago we brought you the story of Shawn Sheehan, Oklahoma's 2016 Teacher of the Year.

At the time, he and about 40 other educators were running for office in the state, wanting to make a change because, as Sheehan puts it, lawmakers weren't prioritizing education. Funding for schools in the state has been cut tremendously over the past decade and teachers in Oklahoma are some of the lowest paid in the country.

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