REPORT: Oklahoma lagging in per-student spending
TULSA (AP) – Oklahoma is trailing behind neighboring states in per-student spending, even when factoring in 2017’s teacher pay raises, according to a recent report.
The National Center for Education Statistics report shows that Oklahoma’s annual expenditures were nearly $1.3 billion below the regional average for the 2015-16 school year, The Tulsa World reported. The region includes Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.
The region spent an average of roughly $9,900 per student, but Oklahoma lagged behind by about $1,800.
Adjusting the figures to include the $480 million increase in state funding this year still puts Oklahoma behind about $1,100, according to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
“Our state’s elected leaders have repeatedly described the raise as only the first step in much-needed education investment, and this new report reinforces why we must stay the course of improving support for public education,” said Shawn Hime, executive director of the association. “Surrounding states are continuing to devote more resources to education, and we’re playing catch-up.”
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has asked lawmakers to approve a $253 million education budget request. The funds would be largely used to reduce class sizes, with $58 million earmarked to fund additional school counselors to help students plan for college and handle personal issues.
Oklahoma teachers walked off the job in April to protest a decade of budget cuts that left classrooms without resources and caused many educators to move to other states.
Oklahoma lawmakers approved a tax-hike package to fund teacher pay raises amid a national uprising of educators seeking more classroom money. Teacher walkouts started in West Virginia and spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado.