Education Advocates Urge State Lawmakers To Pass Education Budget

Monday, March 13th 2017, 6:56 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Education advocates met with state lawmakers to tell them they have 18 days to pass an education budget, or they’ll be breaking the law.  

According to a law passed in 2003, the legislature has to have an education spending plan in place by April 1, but there are a few problems with that.  

First of all, lawmakers have only reached that deadline once. Second, there are no consequences when they break that law. Finally, they have a roughly $900 million budget hole to fill with no real agreement on how to do it.

Jenks school board member Melissa Abdo and her children spent the day talking with lawmakers and passing out calendars, reminding them the deadline for passing a school budget is fast approaching.

“School districts have to hire their teachers by the first Monday in June,” Jenks said. “So when they wait and the budget comes out towards the end of session there’s just not a lot of time.”

Amber England with Stand for Children said without the information, school districts can’t develop their own budgets.  

“If they don’t have that critical information they don’t know what’s going to happen. Are they going to have to lay off more teachers? Are they going to have to end AP courses in high school?  Are they going to have to end arts, PE?” England said.

“It’s demoralizing for my colleagues to not know if they’re going to have a job next year.  To not know where they’re going to be teaching or what they’re going to be teaching,” Westmoore High School teacher Nina Coerver said. 

Advocates said, they think if lawmakers really try, they can have the education budget in place by April 1.

“I know that they’ve been meeting about the budget. I think it’s very realistic to expect lawmakers to do their job,” England said.

Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-District 43, said don’t count on it.

“My belief would be that an April first deadline is probably not going to be feasible,” Jordan said.

To add to the time crunch, lawmakers are taking much of the week off for spring break.