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Students, Parents Lobby Oklahoma Legislature On School Funding

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Both parents and students in Tulsa Public Schools are part of a new lobbying campaign to boost school funding. Both parents and students in Tulsa Public Schools are part of a new lobbying campaign to boost school funding.
Coach David Reyes is out on the playground of Eisenhower Elementary where he's well known for getting the kids moving. Coach David Reyes is out on the playground of Eisenhower Elementary where he's well known for getting the kids moving.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Both parents and students in Tulsa Public Schools are part of a new lobbying campaign to boost school funding.

The parents have launched a website called "49th is Not OK", with a companion Facebook page, and students are writing letters to lawmakers.

04/17/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Parents Mobilizing Against Flat Education Budget

The legislature is finalizing the state budget for next year, which for now has education getting the same amount as last year.

For schools, that amounts to a smaller budget because of rising costs and the end of federal stimulus funding, meant to compensate for previous cuts in the state budget.

Coach David Reyes is out on the playground of Eisenhower Elementary where he's well known for getting the kids moving.

While he's happy here - he's also looking for a job and not just with the Tulsa school district. His job at Eisenhower has been cut from the budget next year.

"The money is out there," Reyes said. "We're back up to 2008 revenue and we need to put it back into education. So hopefully something is going to change."

Eisenhower Parent Gabrielle Ricketts is trying to save Coach Reyes job - and keep all of Tulsa's teachers in the classroom.

She's helped organize the "49th is not OK" website to let parents know that Tulsa plans to cut teachers - as do other districts statewide.

"We're coming together in hopes of motivating parents like us and friends of education to write their legislators and say 'this is not OK,'" Gabrielle said.

Tulsa plans to cut 75 teaching positions, which will eliminate some programs, and increase class sizes. The district blames the legislature for keeping funding flat while costs go up - and federal funding dwindles.

"We need an educated workforce," Ricketts said. "We need children who are prepared for the future and we're hoping that parents will come together and make that a priority for our legislators."

While teachers worry about their jobs, students are writing lawmakers asking for help.

The parents have organized a rally for education funding Thursday night at the field house of Edison High, 2906 East 41st Street, at 6:30.

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