The Norman Transcript

Columns

September 7, 2013

Plan for teacher pay doesn’t add up

NORMAN — State Superintendent Janet Barresi, in a campaign speech recently, called for a $2,000 across-the-board pay increase for teachers. She delivered this speech during a candidate forum, and her remarks have received much media attention.

Increasing teacher salaries has broad support from district leaders, boards of education and many school patrons from districts across our state.

However, Barresi’s proposal is not based on the Legislature and governor appropriating one cent more to fund the increase.

Instead, she contends that school budgets already have adequate funding to pay for it and that administrators and elected board members “can’t argue that Oklahoma schools don’t have enough money on hand” to pay for an increase she herself estimates will cost at least $100 million.

However, I will make that very argument and do so with facts rather than rhetoric.

Oklahoma schools are receiving $200 million less in funding than they did in 2008 and yet are educating tens of thousands more students. In Norman alone, we are educating 1,500 more students.

In fact, if NPS had been given the same per pupil funding this school year that it received just three years ago, we would have $5.9 million more in state funding — more than enough to give teachers a sizable raise.

During the past three years, the NPS Board of Education has committed an additional $3.4 million to salary increases for teachers.

But due to state funding cuts, the district’s fund balance has declined from a high of 12.9 percent when we had stimulus funding to now a projected 6.5 percent. This equates to approximately one month of operational expense.

That is why it is nothing short of ridiculous that the state’s top school official would tell the public their schools should drain the fund balances they draw on to open and operate schools the first part of the school year and for unforeseen expenses — and to do so for a $100 million annually recurring pay increase.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • NRA members need to step up

    Please, Mr. Bloomberg, leave the checkbook open, but step away from the podium. Your efforts to curb gun violence and improve safety are notable. The National Rifle Association thanks you....

    April 19, 2014

  • First, do no harm — to your bank account

    After being sued by the Wall Street Journal, the government finally released its Medicare reimbursement data last week. It included the less-than-stunning revelation that 28 of the 100 doctors who received the largest payments in 2012 were ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Reading between the lines

    Reading is such an improbable idea — a miracle, really. Yet simple squiggles on a page, arranged just so, can convey ideas that change the way we think or introduce to us characters we love for a lifetime. In celebration of reading — and ...

    April 15, 2014

  • CCFI tackling area’s child abuse problem

    Editor, The Transcript: To those of you who are reading this editorial, I assume you care or at least are entertained by the opinions of others. It is my hope and desire that when you read this editorial, you will care about the facts. ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Does Oklahoma need advice from Texas?

    Does Texas have a lock on “brilliant minds”? The names of Texans like Congressman Louie Gomert, Sen. Ted Cruz and that other guy ... I can’t think of his name ... oh yeah, Rick Perry come to mind very quickly. Add to that infamous list ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Why Comcast-Time Warner deal makes sense

    Say this about the deal announced Thursday for Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable: It’s big. Big price tag of $45 billion. Big combined subscriber base of 30 million households. And big risk of a veto from government antitrust regulators....

    April 12, 2014

  • Solid evidence within ice record

    In his November 10 Letter, Gary Reynolds misstated information in the October 27 op-ed by Catherine Hobbs, “New report says global warming is “unequivocal.” Mr. Reynolds incorrectly stated that Dr. Hobbs cited evidence from the 2007 UN ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Times two during April tax season

    Each April, it matters about which column the numbers fall into. Jerry’s first surgery for cataracts occurred in November and the other, December. “How’re you seeing now?” friends say....

    April 8, 2014

  • Soldiers home but not yet safe

    March ended with this uplifting news: For the first time in seven years, no U.S. soldiers died that month in combat. Not one....

    April 7, 2014

  • Fred Harris still sounds like a presidential candidate

    A tourist who happened to wander inside the Kerr Auditorium at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History Friday afternoon missed the introduction but caught the tail end of Fred Harris’ lecture....

    April 6, 2014