Budget cuts expected to worsen teacher shortage

Posted at 6:55 PM, Dec 21, 2015

As most students are enjoying winter break, school districts across the state are bracing for serious cuts due to a $1.1 billion state budget shortfall.

This budget shortfall is a major hit to an education system that was already operating on a shoe string budget.

According to the State Department of Education, since 2008, 50,000 more students have enrolled in Oklahoma schools but funding has remained flat.

With the rising cost of healthcare for employees, districts are already having to cut the amount of money spent on classrooms. Now, they are facing even more cuts and could eventually have larger classroom sizes.

The impact in each district will depend on how much money is given from the state.

Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister hopes to save money by cutting red tape, such as reducing the main hours the Education Department spends on completing reports and lists for the legislature. She also wants look at cutting the amount of expensive and time consuming standardized testing for students.

"On testing, this one area where we are going to take a very close look at [is] to make certain that we are working with our legislators to find what is essential at this particular time, when a bridge to the new standards and the need for reevaluation of those standards."

But, she warns, kids will be affected and parents need to be ready to help their children cope with the changes.

"It is going to take our families recognizing that they need to increase communication with their school. They do need to make sure students show up and that vacations and doctors’ appointments are scheduled after school hours, [and] that they provide support for reading, particularly. And they get ready to embrace the new standards as they come,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent.

During the next session, lawmakers will vote on the new education standard that will replace Common Core. They will also vote on where those education dollars will be spent. 

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