“We have to have leadership at the district level. We need equity across the district, and this requires answering the question ‘What are we doing for every kid?’” Siano said.
McMahan questioned whether this dedication to every kid and equity really exists in the school district.
“Some of the schools in the area seem to get more or less funding from the district. Kennedy Elementary, for example, seems to get less. Is equity a real problem?”
Siano dismissed what he called a common rumor and explained that because of different schools’ demographics, schools may get other federal funding and some schools are just older.
“Kennedy Elementary, for instance, just got $2 million in the our last bond issue. Inequity is categorically not an issue. It is a misconception people have about the district,” Siano said.
Additionally, teacher salaries were discussed as Siano explained that the school system has $20 million less funding than they did in 2008 and an across-the-board salary increase like one Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi recently proposed is not a feasible option.
“I am not an isolationist. I don’t think all of the funding of one department should be given to education,” Siano said. “What I am advocating is that everyone took a hit during the recession, and it is time to figure out how we can start building back.”
With such varied discussion throughout the luncheon, Siano emphasized that the school district cares about the things that are important to the community, whether that is teachers’ salaries, continuing programs like the OKC Food Bank backpack program or district finances.
“As educators, it is our job to facilitate the things that are important to you, our students and the community,” Siano said.