For local districts that can't raise tax revenue to cover the gap, cuts to state aid mean scaling back educational services.
“School boards across the state are at the point where they have to look at making cuts to instruction or increasing the number of kids in a class,” said Julie Miller, deputy director and general counsel for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
“That makes it difficult for the teacher to work with the student on an individual basis.”
In the Oklahoma City and Norman public school districts, increasing enrollment has forced administrators to cut staff and services while increasing class sizes.
“Our overall dollars have decreased, even with the additional students,” said Sandra Park, deputy superintendent for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
“We're trying to figure out how to hire more staff, including teachers. On top of that we're facing more mandates, so we need to do things like hire test coordinators and academic coaches.”
Steven Crawford, executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, said lawmakers need to restore funding levels for common education to pre-recession levels.
Cuts made to other state agencies made when the recession hit have since been restored, he said.
“The governor has to make it a priority, and she says she's an education governor,” he said.
“If that's the case and this is an education administration, we would hope that funding is a priority for them.”
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