As the summer break begins, Oklahoma public schools are weighing what stagnant budgets will mean for their ability to put enough teachers in the classroom in the fall.
Oklahoma Watch Report EXTRA
Brad Gibson speaks in-depth with Oklahoma Watch education reporter Nate Robson about funding for state education, teacher pay and what state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister may be looking at to save on costs.
The challenge arises from the Legislature’s decision not to increase K-12 funding because of a $611 million budget shortfall. The standalone education budget means teachers will not get a pay raise and will remain some of the lowest paid in the country.
School officials worry that more teachers will leave the profession and teacher prospects will either seek jobs in other states or choose another career.
Oklahoma ranks 47th nationally in teacher compensation, paying teachers $44,500, including benefits, on average last year, according to a National Education Association survey. The state was short of about 1,000 teachers in the spring, causing some districts to combine classes, use substitutes or give emergency certification to teachers not fully qualified to teach the subject for which they were hired.