Funding to secure the main student information system and to hire hundreds of school counselors to address students’ trauma were key issues in an education budget totalling nearly $3.2 billion approved by the state Board of Education on Thursday.
The budget request, which is for fiscal year 2022, includes $1 million in supplemental funding to rewrite WAVE, the main student information system, which is 10 years old. The system includes private student information and is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The Department of Education also renewed an initiative to hire 350 school counselors at a cost of $18 million, which the legislature did not appropriate funds for last year. The need is even more dire now considering the impact of COVID-19 on students, the Department said.
Appropriations for education totalled just under $3 billion for FY 2021.
“We are presenting a budget that is respectful of where we are but it is definitely one that we know does not fully encompass what our classroom teachers and what our families want and need for their children in public school,” said Joy Hofmeister, state superintendent of public instruction.
The budget was approved unanimously as part of the board’s monthly meeting and will be presented to the state Legislature in the spring.
Other details from the meeting:
Happening now: @oksde board meeting underway. Dr. Jared Taylor, Interim State Epidemiologist, is speaking to the board re: COVID19. Also on the agenda is a presentation of the proposed FY22 #oklaed budget. Follow me for updates. Meeting stream: https://t.co/YrHmvitU8u pic.twitter.com/yGyafGDmPo— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Taylor said schools should be notifying local health departments, not notifying on their own. For example, football teams have called each other and said we’ve got a COVID case, jersey number, played this many games. That’s personal information and shouldn’t be shared that way.— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Gilstrap says their district invested in live streaming all extra curricular events, and that has cut down on the number of people coming to watch live. In particular, elderly people are staying home to watch.— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Board member Kurt Bollenbach moves to deny two schools’ applications for the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship program. Neither meets anti-discrimination requirements, he said. The schools are Altus Christian and Christian Heritage.— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Board votes to deny both private school LNH applications (Altus Christian Academy and Christian Heritage Academy). The schools can adjust their policies and reapply.— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
#oklaed has experienced an increase in school counselors. The @oksde is requesting additional funds to “build on the momentum.” Still need to hire 1,051 to meet the national recommendation of 250:1 (students to counselor.) pic.twitter.com/15fA5SB0lN— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
@oksde is asking for a $1 million supplemental appropriation to rewrite the WAVE – the state’s main student information system. Its code has been cracked several times and cost the agency to put in place stopgaps and bring the system back online.— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Several board members are asking about the ACT, and what happened to the funds left over from this past spring’s cancellation of those test. @oksde says the carryover is being applied to spring 2021 tests – which have not been waved by the U.S. Dept. of Ed.— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Those of you wanting more detail than the budget highlights I’ve tweeted and can check out the entire budget request here: https://t.co/YCT9jOZRiy— Jennifer Palmer (@jpalmerOKC) September 24, 2020
Jennifer Palmer has been a reporter with Oklahoma Watch since 2016 and covers education. Contact her at (405) 761-0093 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jpalmerOKC