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School boards official: It's time to support excellence in public education

BY JEFF MILLS Published: August 17, 2012

School boards and administrators have the task of educating every student who walks through the door. To do so effectively requires qualified personnel. Imagine making contractual agreements with teachers and support staff in June, as required by state law, only to learn in July that despite promises of “flat funding” from the state, your school district has less money.

Many of Oklahoma's school districts became concerned when it was announced that they'd be getting less money than anticipated. Jenks, for example, was allocated more than $200,000 less than the previous year. Oklahoma City got $1.5 million less and Tulsa got $1.7 million less. This creates a burden for school districts that have rehired teachers as outlined in law by June 1.

Initially, Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman commented on the matter at the state Board of Education meeting in reference to the significant amount of state aid funds withheld by the Department of Education. At the July board meeting, it was revealed that funds would go to new educational entities while existing schools were left depending on these funds, as provided for in state law.

“Why so much concern about charter schools?” (Our Views, Aug. 6) notes that Jenks is an affluent school district. You noted the cost of a math and science center that was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in Jenks, a choice that should be left up to the local districts. Choice is the key word — just as charter schools and virtual schools are choices that parents make for their children as allowed by Oklahoma law. However, let's not criticize a local community for making a choice to pass a tax referendum by a super majority. This should instead be heralded as a community's support of its public schools.

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