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March 11, 2014

School board supports education rally

NORMAN — The Norman Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution instructing Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano to support participation in an education rally at a regular school board meeting Monday night.

The Oklahoma Education Coalition Funding Rally Resolution will allow students, staff and patrons to participate at the Education Rally at the Oklahoma Capitol on March 31.

Rally participants will call on the Oklahoma Legislature to prioritize education funding and restore per pupil funding to pre-recession levels. Moreover, Norman Public Schools supports measures to protect the tax base of local school districts and examination of existing ad valorem exemptions in an effort to ensure adequate funding and accountable and equitable taxation.

Cari Manzer, Professional Educators of Norman president, addressed the board on the behalf of Norman teachers. With approval of the resolution, the district plans to send 10 percent of teachers from every school site to the rally who are Professional Educators of Norman members. Manzer said parents, teachers and administration who plan on attending the rally will be trained on talking points.

Professional Educators of Norman hopes to have as many parents participate as teachers, with 300 participants total. Manzer said schools would be in-session the day of the rally.

“With our plan, we’re saying that this issue is important, but school is just as important,” Manzer said.

The resolution identifies several major education funding concerns that will be brought to the legislature by rally participants, including:

· Student academic achievement is being negatively impacted as a result of funding cuts to common education.

· Oklahoma is ranked 49th in the nation and last in the region for teacher pay.

· State appropriations to common education in Oklahoma are approximately $230 million below pre-recession levels.

· Teachers and support personnel have not had a state-funded salary increase in seven years.

· School districts are eliminating academic and student enrichment programs and increasing class sizes because of funding cuts.

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