The Norman Transcript

Opinion

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
Opinion
  • State, local jobmarkets look up

    A tight labor market is often a big problem for economic development professionals. They need to be able to promise companies that there are willing workers in the community’s labor pool....

    July 26, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Be careful out in the heat

    This week’s triple-digit temperatures are contributing to heat-related illnesses. The state health department’s Injury Prevention Service reminds Oklahomans of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke....

    July 25, 2014

  • Get smart on crime

    It’s no secret that prison guards have become the frontline mental health case workers in Oklahoma prisons. Accessing mental health services outside of prison is tough but even harder behind the walls....

    July 25, 2014

  • James Garner will be missed

    Editor, The Transcript: Norman native son James Garner was a fine actor on stage, screen and television. I enjoyed the “Maverick” TV series and, in particular, the 1959 episode “The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill” in which the very popular ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014