State Superintendent Janet Barresi recently recommended a $2,000 pay raise for teachers.
She said the money could come from each district’s carry over funds and budget cuts.
The Tulsa Public Schools superintendent responded by saying that would not be a fiscally responsible position.
Dr. Keith Ballard said, “Carryover funds are reserve funds that are used primarily to manage cash flow from fiscal year to fiscal year. By law, districts are allowed 14 percent carryover. TPS’s ending fund balance for 2012-13 is $20.7 million, or 6.8 percent of revenue, which is well below what state law allows.”
Barresi responded to reaction from several area superintendents who agreed with Ballard.
She said, “The liberal education establishment has fought me the whole way. And they’re not about to let reality get in the way of their agenda.”
Barresi’s full statement is below:
CCOSA and the OSSBA have shown their true stripes once again. When I was elected to office in 2010, the voters of Oklahoma gave me a mandate: bring meaningful reform to Oklahoma schools, raise standards, and give Oklahoma’s kids a chance at a brighter future.
The best way to do that is with great teachers.
Even CCOSA and the OSSBA can’t argue that Oklahoma schools don’t have enough money on hand to use ten percent of their carryover funds for increasing teacher salaries. Oklahoma schools had a little more than $565 million carryover entering last year. This year the carryover amount of $710 million ($145 million more than last year) clearly shows they have enough sitting in the bank to give teachers in most every district the additional money they desperately need and deserve. Whether it is called a raise or a stipend, the key is that our teachers have more money.
The liberal education establishment has fought me the whole way. And they’re not about to let reality get in the way of their agenda. CCOSSA and OSSBA claim that I’ve secured an additional $106 million for programs directed by the State Department of Education, and suggest that money doesn’t benefit schools. What are the funds they’re talking about? School Activity Funds that all go directly to the districts, including money for Teacher and Support Employee Health Insurance, Alternative Education - including online learning options for kids and parents, National Board Certified Teacher stipends, reading and teacher support programs…vital, direct-to-the-district programs for our teachers and students to meet the tougher standards Oklahomans voted for.
The response of CCOSA and OSSBA also conveniently ignores my call for them to re-prioritize just two percent of their administrative overhead. By continuing to improve efficiencies, we can find a sustainable source for teacher pay. We cannot stand by and preserve bloated administrative budgets at the expense of teachers.
I know of no teacher who would scoff at even a one-time $2000 increase in pay. In the meantime, we'll continue to look at ways to focus and prioritize funding while growing our economy by producing college and career ready students. Together, we can get our teacher pay raised to where it needs to be to support these professionals. As I have said before, other than parents, teachers are the single most important factor in a child's education. Our shortage is in quality teachers, not administrators.