Oklahoma Education Board requests $158 million budget increase

The state Education Department approved a budget request that would return funding levels for kindergarten through 12th-grade education back to fiscal year 2011 levels, while adding additional funding for some programs.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Published: December 16, 2011

Bonuses for teachers who earn National Board Certification would be reinstated in 2013 under the state Education Board budget proposal approved Thursday.

The overall budget request is for $2.4 billion for common education in fiscal year 2013, which is a $157.9 million increase over fiscal year 2012 funding levels.

“We're getting back to FY 11 numbers. We were cut $100 million,” Superintendent Janet Barresi said. “To sum it up as Will Rogers said, ‘It takes you longer to climb out of a hole than it does to fall into one,' so we're going to start climbing back up.”

Included in the budget was roughly $16 million to reinstate $5,000 bonuses given every year to teachers who have achieved National Board Certification. The bonuses were suspended for fiscal year 2012 due to budget cuts.

“I think we've got an obligation to the National Board Certified teachers so it's good to have that in there,” Board Member Bill Price, of Oklahoma City, said. “With this new testing we're having and this new ability to judge teachers and determine the teachers that are highly effective teachers, they should be particularly rewarded. I like rewarding accomplishments even more than rewarding qualifications.”

Price said rewarding teachers based on classroom performance rather than on completion of professional development is more beneficial to students.

Not only is Barresi recommending that the bonuses be reinstated next year, but the funding increase included almost $1 million in scholarships to pay for teachers to go through the certification process.

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