Ahead of the 2017-2018 school year, the state school board has approved more emergency teacher certifications.
The board approved 224 emergency positions at its June meeting, compared to 77 requested at the same meeting one year ago. Over the course of the 2016-2017 school year more than 1,000 emergency certificates were approved.
“They are already well ahead of pace of where they were this time last year,” eCaptiol News Director Shawn Ashley told KGOU.
eCapitol’s Christie Southern reports 142 of this year’s requests were for extensions, which allows another year for the temporary teachers to complete their full certification.
“The teacher shortage is not going away. It's not going to fix itself. In fact, it's getting worse," said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister during Thursday's meeting. "To put this in perspective, last year we were looking at 77 [certificates]. This year you are being asked to consider 224. That does not bode well."
There are 800 to 1,000 positions in the upcoming school year that do not have certified teachers or emergency certified educators to fill.
Cuts to film rebate program
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation into law cutting the film rebate program, originally designed to spur economic development in the state, by 20 percent.
The program offers a 35 percent direct rebate for in-state expenditures on goods and services, wages and other fees. The program typically capped out at $5 million per fiscal year. Under the new law, that pot of money will be capped at $4 million per fiscal year.
“It appears that some lawmakers think that it may be the artist themselves who come to Oklahoma to participate in these movies, who are receiving payments from the state as part of this rebate program,” Ashely said. “That’s simply not the case.”
eCapitol’s Tyler Talley reports reimbursable expenses can include money the film crew spends while in the state. That includes things like hotels, food and entertainment in local communities while not filming, according to Oklahoma Film + Music Office director Tava Maloy Sofsky.
"Who is going to do business in a state they're not feeling that continued ongoing support?" Sofsky said. "Oklahoma's attractive in many, many ways for people to come here and do business…because of the competitive nature of the film industry, the incentive is a must."
A 2016 survey of state film and television tax incentives found 19 states offer tax credits, 9 offer rebates, 6 provide grants and 16 offer no incentive.
In Oklahoma, films must have a budget of at least $50,000 and at least $25,000 must be spent in the state, in order to qualify for the rebate. An additional 2 percent incentive is added if films spend $20,000 on music made in Oklahoma.
A 2016 report by the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission found the Oklahoma film industry has strengthened since the rebate has been available. From fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2015 the state spent $14.8 million through the program, and received a return of $1.9 million in revenue. That equals a return of approximately 13 cents on the dollar.
The Oklahoma Film + Music Office tells eCapitol more than $36 million was spent by film producers in the state in 2017.
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