A Word From The Superintendent

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On Monday, September 25, our State Legislators will convene into special session. The special session is necessary due to the ruling of the State Supreme Court which found that the revenue which was approved by the legislature was unconstitutional.

It is estimated that 215 million dollars in revenue will be lost due to the ruling of the state’s high court on the cigarette tax. The loss of that revenue has led to the Governor calling for the special session. If a solution is not agreed upon during the special session, deeper cuts in state agencies will be the result. This means more cuts to public education, higher education as well as the Department of Human Services.

Oklahoma has experienced some very tough budgets in the past few years. The decline in the economy along with tax breaks and tax cuts have left us facing continued budget shortfalls. All state agencies have faced reduced budgets and simply can’t handle much more in the way of budget cuts.

The costs of educating students in Oklahoma is also on the rise. During the past few years, Oklahoma Schools has seen an increase in the number of economically disadvantaged students, bilingual students as well as special education students. These groups of students require extra resources and experienced teachers.

Also, the health benefits for our school employees is on the rise just like you are probably experiencing within your household. Over the past seven years, the cost of health insurance has risen 128 million for public education. Most of the increases in any funding have gone towards meeting the needs for health insurance.

Currently, Oklahoma Schools are receiving 325

Brad Overton

million dollars less that they received in 2009. Oklahoma has always been behind when it comes to funding our schools. Oklahoma spends $1,500 less per student on average than states in our region.

Governor Fallin is calling on legislators to address long term solutions to continuing budget shortfalls. I believe this is crucial for our state. We must address these shortfalls that are hurting all areas of our state.

I believe that one of the most important issues that we are facing is our teacher shortage. The shortage within Oklahoma is getting to a critical stage. The single most important factor in educating children is to have a highly qualified and trained teacher in every classroom.

In 2014, the State Board of Education approved 512 emergency teaching certificates. Then it increased to 1,063 in 2015 and 1,082 in 2016. I believe that over 2000 emergency certificates will be approved this year. We must do more in order to put qualified teachers in front of all of our students.

The teacher shortage issue will not be solved without a pay raise for our teachers. A teacher pay raise is a starting point and will entice more teachers into the professional as well as keep some from leaving the profession.

The governor has asked that legislators address a pay increase for K-12 public school teachers during the special session.

I often hear our legislators state that they wish to hear from us. They say they appreciate our input. I hope that you can take the time to communicate your thoughts to our elected leaders. Your thoughts may differ from mine, and that is fine. Our leaders need to hear from you.

It’s a Great Time to Be a Blue Devil.