School officials reacted with concern Thursday after the release of a report that shows Oklahoma leads the nation in the percentage of spending cuts per student since the recession began in 2008.
Oklahoma has slashed per-pupil spending by 22.8 percent, according to the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
Expenditures have been cut $810 per student in Oklahoma, one of 34 states providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit.
The state currently spends $3,038 a year on each student.
The authors called the state-level cuts a threat to education reform initiatives and national economies, and said restoring school funding should be an “urgent priority.”
“The need is greater than ever for us to replace our retiring teachers and address continuing growth by hiring additional teachers,” said David Goin, superintendent of Edmond Public Schools. “I'm hopeful our leaders will see fit to reverse the trend of decreasing the percentage of the state budget going to the education of Oklahoma children.”
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said she had not reviewed the report, which used inflation-adjusted dollar amounts and primary form of state aid to schools to make the state-by-state comparisons.
A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin questioned the accuracy of the report, saying it is unclear whether it reflects a $90 million increase in education funding approved by the governor for fiscal year 2014.
“Having looked at the study, we're uncertain about the methodology and how they drew the conclusion they did,” said Alex Weintz, Fallin's communications director.
Weintz said education remains a “priority” for the governor, who cut education spending by 4.1 percent in 2012, a $97 million decrease in funding for common education, he said.
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