School leaders from around the state had some face time with the Governor, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, and some legislators.
Governor Mary Fallin was the first to address the group. She renewed her commitment to a teacher pay raise even saying she would veto a 2018 budget without one.
Then, Joy Hofmeister discussed her plan to what she calls "meaningful change" in Oklahoma Education.
“We have slashed budgets at the local level to the point that we have really harmed kids,” said Secretary Hofmeister. “We can’t keep going down that path.”
Superintendent Hofmeister and the other speakers addressing the roomful of superintendents, know all too well what those budget cuts have meant.
“Emergency certified teachers, budget trimming where we can, it’s all bare bones right now,” said Jason Midkiff, the superintendent at Purcell.
But Superintendent Hofmeister also went beyond the classroom when speaking about the Department of Education’s 8-year strategic plan, and outlined four critical need areas. Those areas are: food insecurity, chronic absenteeism, achievement gaps and child Abuse and neglect.
“More Oklahoma children witness domestic violence than in any other state in the country,” she told the group. “Let that sink in. More Oklahoma children witness domestic violence than in any other state. And you know them as your students.”
Representative Jason Dunnington and State Senator Jason Smalley then took questions from the crowd, mostly dealing with education funding. Both said they want a teacher pay raise, but admitted raising the revenue to do that may be difficult in this election year.
“I think we’re to the point where we’re going to have to see a little bit of action before I’m going to get my hopes up,” said Midkiff. “We’re on eight years of promises.”