State Board Faces A Difficult Task
June 10, 2016
President Alicia Priest’s statement to the State Board of Education on the funding cuts to education in the FY 2017 budget:
“State Superintendent Hofmeister and honorable board members, thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
“On behalf of the members of the Oklahoma Education Association, we sympathize with you on the task you must take on at this meeting. I’m sure there are no easy answers to the question of, 'Where do we cut multiple millions of dollars without hurting students?' The simple answer is, you can’t.
“While some legislators want us to believe public education funding was held flat in the FY 2017 budget, we know our schools will actually receive less money per pupil than last year. That’s because, in addition to reduced funding associated with two declarations of revenue failure over the last six months, enrollment continues to grow in our schools.
“We know many school districts are using attrition, increasing class size and eliminating programs all together to help balance their budgets. In some districts, teachers and support professionals are being laid off. A four-day school week is an option that some schools are choosing in order to save money. But here’s our reality: Children are the real casualties of this financial crisis. When classes are overcrowded, children miss out on valuable one-on-one instruction. When schools can’t afford up to date textbooks, technology and a broad enriching curriculum, student learning suffers.
“We must plan today for the future of our children. The OEA and its members stand ready to work with the State Department of Education, the State Board, and the districts in order to tackle this financial crisis and find ways to deal with the loss of funding that least affects students.
“Please know that we stand with you as you make these tough decisions. Thank you.”
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