The Governor’s order to consolidate some school districts is getting big push back from educators. The Governor's executive order calls for districts that spend less than 60 percent of their budgets in the classroom to consolidate administrative expenses by 2020.
The Calumet School District, about 45 minutes west of Oklahoma City, has an average enrollment of 280 students. And Superintendent Dr. Keith Weldon says they are one of those districts that meet the criteria for consolidation.
“There’s very few schools that can even afford that 60 percent of our budget in the classroom,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not because superintendents don’t want to, it’s because of all these other expenses that we have to do.”
That would mean Calumet would have to consolidate a lot of those expenses with another district. Things like a superintendent, human resources, professional development, and equipment. The money saved would be put back into the district.
A News 9 poll last year showed 68 percent likely voters in Oklahomans are in favor of such an idea. Supporters point out Oklahoma has 520 school districts and ranks near the top in the country in percentage of funds spent on administrative costs even though teacher pay is now ranked at the bottom.
“The goal is to increase the focus on getting more dollars going to the classroom to support higher teacher salaries and instructional resources,” said Governor Fallin’s Communications Director Michael McNutt on Wednesday.
But educators say the call for consolidation is simply a distraction from the real issue and shifting money in already thin budgets won't solve this crisis.
“We don’t have a spending problem, public schools don’t have a spending problem. We have a revenue problem,” said Dr. Weldon.