As the state's budget crisis continues to gut school district budgets across the state, teachers turn to community foundations for grant money.
Among the communities stepping up to help their districts is the Owasso Education Foundation.
Friday, OEF made 10 stops at schools in the Owasso Public Schools to deliver nearly $45,000 in grant money.
“I’m really excited. I’m taking some drawing classes. All of it is online this summer. It will just help me propel my students into the next phase,” said Owasso High School art teacher Kay Bratcher.
Bratcher, who is a first-year teacher in her second career, says that money will not only benefit her students by providing another artistic outlet, it also keeps her in the classroom.
"It's especially important for me because I went through the alternative teaching certification program, which I have to have 270 professional development credit hours to keep my certification," she explained.
Without the grant, Bratcher would be out the $1,200 needed for her course.
Across the school, where members of the jazz choir belted "Evolution of Music" by Penatonix, choir director Mindy Bettridge received a grant of her own.
OEF awarded Bettridge $1,400 for a portable sound system, which will allow the jazz choir to take their talents outside the building and perform at functions across the community.
“We are not able to purchase things like that — big ticket items for the kids — without the help of organizations like OEF,” Bettridge said.
In her 19 years of teaching, including 16 at Owasso High School, Bettridge says she's never sending the funding situation quite like this.
“This is the worst we’ve seen it,” she said.
The school faced $400,000 in cuts this year and could face up to $2.8 million next year, according to superintendent Dr. Clark Ogilvie.
Ogilvie says he wants to do what's possible to avoid teacher cuts next school year but acknowledges reductions in service, as well as administration and support staff.
OEF collects donations from local businesses and corporations and through fundraisers.
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