KGOU

education funding

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

 Oklahoma Education Association president Alicia Priest called the nine-day teacher walkout a “victory for teachers” after it ended on Thursday, April 12. But KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley say most of the gains came before the walkout began.

 

 

[UNFILTERED] /Elizabeth Sims

On Friday, April 6, Oklahoma legislators passed two more revenue bills in addition to the $447 revenue package they hoped would prevent a teacher walkout this week.

One requires third-party vendors on Amazon Marketplace to collect a sales tax. The other, the so-called "ball and dice" bill, changes rules for casinos to generate revenue. Both passed, although the ball and dice bill will not take effect immediately. They now head to Gov. Mary Fallin.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

A controversial proposal to end a tax break that benefits fewer than 18,000 Oklahomans – the vast majority of whom make upwards of $200,000 – is at the center of the debate over how lawmakers can find more money for education and potentially end the teacher walkout.

Teachers, education advocates and House Democrats have launched a renewed push since the teacher work stoppage began on Monday for the Legislature to pass a bill that would eliminate the state’s capital gains deduction.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Boosting teacher pay by an average of $6,000—which the Legislature approved last week—wasn’t enough to put the brakes on a massive shut-down of schools to rally at the state Capitol. An estimated 30,000 people attended Monday’s rally, and many school districts are closed again Tuesday so the walkout can continue.

Calumet Public Schools Superintendent Keith Weldon stands in an old garage that he now uses for an agriculture program. Weldon worries if lawmakers take some of his local funding, he would have to scale back the popular program.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The wind blows strong and steady in Calumet, a small town about 40 miles west of Oklahoma City.

It’s the wind that’s prompted companies to build turbines here. A natural gas company also built a plant nearby.

Workers on a road construction project on E.K. Gaylord Boulevard in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Education proponents and other Oklahoma City residents spoke out against a MAPS sales tax and bond proposal at this week’s city council meeting. If approved by council on June 20, the public will vote on the $1.1 billion proposal in September.

The general obligation bond package, permanent quarter-cent sales tax and temporary three-quarters cent sales tax would be used for infrastructure improvements and emergency services. The sales taxes would be a continuation of the expiring MAPS 3 one percent sales tax.

Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Gov. Mary Fallin signed the Fiscal Year 2018 Oklahoma state budget Wednesday.

Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister discusses school issues during her interview for KGOU's Capitol Insider.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

In this bonus Capitol Insider interview, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley sit down with Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister to talk about education issues, including the state's revised A through F school grading system, teacher pay and four day school weeks. 

Oklahoma state Rep. Charles McCall, right, R-Atoka, Speaker of the House, answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 13, 2017. McCall discussed the budget and teacher pay raises.
Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

 

 


 

What happened at the Capitol this week?

 

Oklahoma lawmakers are plugging away at a 2018 state budget--figuring out where the state’s money will come from and where it will go.

 

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Lawmakers will take another stab at increasing teacher salaries, will attempt to stymie four-day school weeks and try to eliminate the end-of-year exam in U.S. history.

With the filing deadline on Jan. 19, bills have been streaming in, including many related to common education. Additional bills could surface later because of exceptions to the deadline and shell bills whose language is often replaced mid-session.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Wednesday it will cut 208 teaching positions next year. District officials are attributing the move to what they're calling a catastrophic budget crisis.

Superintendent Rob Neu says he's not sure which teachers will be affected just yet.

"It is my hope that all 208 will be through natural attrition, whether it be retirement, or people leaving the profession, or transferring," Neu said.

Daryl Gandy teaches at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

Daryl Gandy walks through the halls of Ulysses S. Grant High School in south Oklahoma City.

“We have 1,800 kids in this school that was built for 1,250,” Gandy said. “We have about 30 teachers, myself included, that don’t have a classroom.”

As Gandy strolls through the school cafeteria, he points outside to a white, nondescript building with a long metal ramp.

“These are our portables,” Gandy said. “We call it the trailer park. We have about 10 classrooms out here. This helps some of our overcrowding situation but it definitely didn’t fix it.”

University of Oklahoma president David Boren during a Wednesday press conference at the state Capitol.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

University of Oklahoma President David Boren and his education advocacy group filed a petition with the Secretary of State Wednesday that will ask voters to support a one-cent sales tax increase to fund education.

“Are our kids worth a penny?” Boren asked his listeners at the state Capitol.

Various estimates say the tax could cost an Oklahoma family anywhere from $75 to $250 a year.

Tulsa World / Creative Commons

Oklahoma gained one spot to claim the fourth lowest average teacher salary in the nation, not because teachers are earning significantly more, but because the average salary in Idaho went down.

Chancellor for Higher Education Glen Johnson
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

Oklahoma higher education officials say proposed budget cuts to the state's college and universities could have devastating consequences for the schools and their students.

Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson led a delegation of college officials who outlined the impact of proposed budget cuts Tuesday for members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

a school classroom with empty chairs
comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

A bill allowing parents to receive cash subsidies from the state to send their children to private schools has cleared a Senate committee despite bipartisan opposition.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 8-6 on Tuesday for the bill that is fiercely opposed by education groups, including those representing school boards, administrators and teachers.

a school classroom with empty chairs
comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of school districts across Oklahoma will share more than $16.3 million in state funding after the State Department of Education admitted miscalculating the state's school funding formula for more than 20 years.

State school officials say the funds are being sent to districts and charter schools this week and next. Most schools received some kind of payment, ranging from hundreds to millions of dollars.

The recalculations are based on a 1992 law that says state aid would not factor in above an 11 percent cap that counties were taxing certain personal property.

Gov. Mary Fallin at her 2015 State of the State speech before the Oklahoma legislature.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin has released her executive budget sent to the legislature for fiscal year 2016 that begins July 1, 2015.

Fallin urged lawmakers to spend more than $80 million to boost funding for K-12 education, several health agencies and the Department of Corrections. Funding for ten other agencies would be flat; the rest would face 6.25 percent cuts to their annual appropriations. The state is facing a $300 million budget hole that could grow as low oil prices affect revenues. Fallin predicts a tough budget year.

woodleywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report finds Oklahoma is near the bottom of the list nationally on the quality of education it provides to students.

Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report card, released Thursday, ranked Oklahoma’s education system 48th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The annual report, which changed this year to focus more on educational outcomes, looked at academic achievement, school funding and the chance for success students have when they grow up.

‘No Chance’ For Education Bond Proposal

Dec 4, 2014
Oklahoma State Department of Education

A proposal to create bond-financed trusts for Oklahoma’s common and higher education systems will likely face a difficult path in the legislature, said veteran legislators on both sides of the aisle. 

On Nov. 2, state Sen. Brian Crain called on the legislature to create two $2.5 billion, 30-year bond issues to “to secure permanent additional education funding.”

"While the investment will take about 30 years to pay off, the trusts that are created will be eternal," said Crain, R-Tulsa. "They will last as long as the state of Oklahoma."

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