Teacher Tracy Murdock may work in a Tulsa public school where many students face poverty, but she says teaching enriches her life.
"You are the mainstay when it comes to what their educational future is going to look like. It's you," said Murdock, a 6th grade teacher at Celia Clinton Elementary.
Sometimes getting students up to speed means getting a little extra help.
"Individualized and small group attention is all these kids need to supplement, get them back up to level and just additional personnel, (para-professionals) and (teachers assistants)," she said.
And federal funds make that possible. TPS alone receives $54 million a year from the feds, and it mostly goes to schools where many children live in poverty.
So losing the money, "It would be a devastating impact," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools.
But it's a scenario that lawmakers are playing out as a precaution.
"It's important for state policymakers to have a contingency plan. A plan for what happens if the federal government falls off the fiscal cliff," said Oklahoma Representative Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie.
Legislators recently had a one-day study to look at all state agencies and their dependence on federal funds, and the numbers are shocking.
Just to give you an idea, Oklahoma spends about $17 billion a year to run all state agencies and of that $10.5 billion comes from the feds, that means the federal government foots the bill 60 percent of the time when it comes to running the state of Oklahoma.
"Various government services have been built around federal dollars over the years and state and federal agencies have aggressively pursued those dollars and become dependent upon them," said Murphey.
More of a reason Murphey says each state agency needs to have a plan, a worst case scenario should federal dollars ever be lost.
Although just a precaution, Ballard says since Congress created the national standards for all districts to follow the federal government should continue to pay.
"It's the federal requirements so you can't separate the money. You can't make the requirement and then not pay the bill," said Ballard.
For Murdock it's the tutors and teachers aids who pave the way for something priceless.
"I see kids that don't even know they can go to college starting to believe they will go to college," she said.
State lawmakers plan to file legislation in February requiring agencies to have contingency plans in case Congress makes cuts.
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