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Miami School Officials and Teachers React to Another Budget Cut - KOAM TV 7

Miami School Officials and Teachers React to Another Budget Cut by State: Teacher Walkout Considered

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Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin had promised to veto budget bills that didn't include pay raises for teachers.
          But yesterday she signed an appropriations bill that cuts two percent from state agencies including schools.
          For superintendents it means once again looking for places to cut and no raises for teachers who say they are fed up.
         
 

In Miami, at Nichols elementary science teacher Courtney Billings showed students an owl pellet.
 "See there
s the bones in there. We've got skulls in there already," she explained. All students at Nichols upper elementary will get to dissect them thanks to a local enrichment foundation grant. Its money  teachers seek because the district cant afford extras.
Billings said, "We can only do so much. And without out the state backing us and people at the capitol backing us, our hands are tied. And it
s hurting our kids."

But grants won't pay teachers
salaries and thats what the superintendent said is at risk now that the state is cutting yet another two percent from funding.
Superintendent Jeremy Hogan warned, "If this continues, either we have to cut positions to be at a  sustainable level, or we're gonna have to  take out a loan."
Several Oklahoma school districts have padded their budgets with a buffer called a fund balance because  they
ve experienced budget cuts from the state for at least the last eight years. Hogan said, "Thats money that could go to the classroom for instruction so you could have smaller class sizes,  other course offerings, but you have to build that buffer in there because we've been cut, like I said,  every year for the last eight to nine years."
Wyandotte superintendent Troy Gray said his carryover monies have been depleted by the repeated midyear budget cuts. He said five years ago the district had a one point one million dollar carryover. Last year it was just six hundred thousand and now it
s taking another hit.

Hogan says superintendents have been told to expect another two and half percent budget cut next year.

The superintendent said the governor went back on her word about teacher pay raises by signing an appropriations bill without them. Many teachers statewide are considering a walkout.

Billings said it could happen. "I think we have to have a voice as teachers. We have to have take a stand. We have to  say this is not gonna work,  our kids deserve more, teachers deserve  more, and every year we get less."

And  the district has already lost good teachers to higher paying states.
"I
m in my second year, said superintendent Hogan, Ive  lost thirty-one teachers to surrounding states. Thats about  ten percent, a little over  ten percent of our teachers we've lost to surrounding states."  
Hogan expects to lose more as he
s already received nine requests for letters of recommendation from teachers seeking jobs out of state.

Even science teacher Billings, who's been in Miami nine years could have to leave. She  is about to complete graduate work and may have to seek an administrative job elsewhere.
 

Other impact

The two percent  current cuts for state agencies led to at least one job cut at the Ottawa county health department.


 

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