Funding Oklahoma's rural schools

By: Teddy Safo Email
By: Teddy Safo Email

SPRINGER, Okla. -- Is the school your child attends under funded? If you live in rural Oklahoma, a new study shows there's a good chance. A recent study by the rural school and community trust says the majority of Oklahoma’s rural school are under funded.

We spoke with some area schools and a local lawmaker to find out how the lack of funding could hurt our kids education.

Tackling school funding is not easy, but Representative Greg Piatt says he questions the national report's findings that rural schools are under funded.

"Rural schools in Oklahoma that are doing a tremendous job. Yes, they may need more money, but they are doing an awesome job," Piatt said.

Piatt does agree that rural schools do need more money. This year the state's education board plans to ask lawmakers for $395 million, $86 million of which will go toward operational costs.

"Fuel costs for their buses, food cost in cafeteria, all those have risen tremendously over the last two years without significant increase in operational budgets."

Those are expenses that the Springer School District has been dealing with for a while.

"We have some bus transportation needs. We also have to pay salaries, so as operational costs continue to rise that just puts a limit on things that we can do," Springer ISD superintendent Rick Peters says.

As part of the budget request, the education board wants allocate $109 million to raise each teacher's salary by $2,000.

"They would do the $2,000 increase that they fully fund it and have it to where the school district doesn’t have to make the difference."

It's a move that Superintendent Rick Peters hopes would keep teachers in the district. Lawmakers say tackling school budgets their first priority

"The first priority in education this year is addressing dollars in general budgets so local schools can have control over where that money is spent to meet their needs."

We also spoke with other area school officials who told us that if something is not done to increase operational costs, they will eventually have to cut some of their staff.


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