$503 million more sought for schools


Wednesday, January 16th 2008, 9:37 pm
By: News 9


By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

State Superintendent of Schools Sandy Garrett will ask the Legislature to add $503 million to the public school budget next week.

Democratic Sen. John Crutchfield is one of the key players in setting Oklahoma's educational budget.   "The kind of numbers you're talking about are going to be very hard to come up with, and I'd say impossible," Crutchfield said.

He said the state doesn't have an extra $503 million.   "I don't know of any of us that wouldn't want to do everything we can to put more money into education," Crutchfield said.

Republican Tad Jones agrees with Crutchfield's math.

"Very seldom do agencies get what they ask for," Jones said.

Before you close the book on the superintendent's half-billion dollar request, consider these numbers. The state Board of Education said it costs $18 million a day to operate Oklahoma's public schools.

 That means half the money Garrett's seeking will fund operational expenses such as fuel for school buses, electricity and building maintenance.   Garrett also wants $110 million for teacher raises, which would increase salaries $2,000 annually.

Finally, Garrett's asking for $90 million to extend the school year by five days.

When lawmakers return to the state Capitol, Jones said they'll make educaton a top priority. However, he can't predict how much new money will be allocated to schools.