Teachers, administrators and parents from across Oklahoma are taking their fight for more education funding to the steps of the state Capitol on Monday.
Representatives from the state's largest school district, however, will not be among them. Oklahoma City Public Schools is not participating in the rally, which is expected to draw thousands to the statehouse.
Interim Superintendent Dave Lopez said Friday he didn't think it made sense to forfeit additional instructional time by closing schools, which district leaders in Tulsa and Broken Arrow are doing so teachers can attend the rally.
“We're trying to squeeze in every hour of instruction before (state) testing in April,” Lopez said. “And we've already missed a lot of instruction time because of school closures caused by severe weather.”
Mostly, the decision was a philosophical one, he said.
“I'm not sure that if we were to make the sacrifice of that instructional time ... I'm uncertain that this is going to be a persuasive way to advocate for more funding,” he said.
City district teachers can use a personal business day to participate in the rally, but had to request the day off, spokeswoman Tierney Tinnin said Friday.
Since 2008-09, funding for public schools in Oklahoma has been cut 23 percent or about $200 million. Statewide student growth over the same period has exceeded 30,000 students.
Edmond Public Schools, which is serving 2,700 more students than it did in 2008-09, is facing $4 million in budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year.
“It's not an overstatement to say that we are in a funding crisis — perhaps the worst that I have seen in my more than 30 years of education,” said David Goin, the district's superintendent.