Schools are closing, teacher layoff notices have gone out and class sizes will grow across Oklahoma because of the state’s standstill education budget, Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said in an interview.
Hofmeister said details are emerging that show the state’s K-12 budget, which remained at $2.5 billion for fiscal year 2016, will ultimately result in cuts at many school districts. Overhead costs such as insurance are increasing, enrollment is rising and some districts are losing local revenue because of a drop in oil and gas production.
In Burns Flat-Dill City Public Schools, for example, pink slips were given to four of its elementary school teachers last month, a move that will increase class sizes.
Lawton Public Schools is closing four elementary schools.
“Districts are going to be making decisions that are cutting into bone,” Hofmeister said. “Case in point, closing schools in Lawton.”
Despite the setbacks, Hofmeister said she will push her agenda again next year. That includes addressing an ongoing teacher shortage and low teacher pay, overhauling the state’s high-stakes testing requirements and revamping the state’s A-F school grades.