Funding Issues Impact Oklahoma Classrooms, Courses

Wednesday, March 28th 2018, 10:54 am

Budget cuts are forcing schools to pick and choose what programs they can keep and which have to be cut to save money. I found the funding issue is far reaching, impacting both large and small districts alike.

Julie Leaton is in her 11th year teaching Spanish at Sapulpa Jr. High School.

"When I first got here we actually had French, German, Latin and Spanish, and all of them have been cut except Spanish," Julie Leaton.
"We're in a pretty low place right now." 
Brian Dorman: "You get emotional talking about it." 
Julie Leaton: "Yea, I do. I do." 
Brian Dorman: "Tell me why." 
Julie Leaton: "Because they are my babies. I want them to be successful. I want every one of my kids to do, be the best they can be and to know I can't give them what they deserve it's very disheartening. very sad."

Things are continuing to get worse for Jenks Public Schools too, where class sizes are growing out of control. Elle Fowler teaches sixth-grade math and science at Jenks West Intermediate School.  

Educate Oklahoma

"I teach pre-algebra. I have 36 kids in my pre-algebra class, and the teacher down the hall from me has 39," said teacher Elle Fowler. "We're siting on top of each other in the classroom."

Elle says, a number of things have been cut including summer school.

"We had to cut our summer school program that we used to have at this site which was nice because it was a way for a lot of our teachers to earn some additional income over the summer." 

Michelle Sumner is in her 18th year as principal and 33rd year as an educator. 
"I was a teacher back in 1990 when teachers walked out then - and you know, the message then was, fund education," she said. "And here we are 20 years later, and we're still asking to fund education." 

Michelle says she's having teachers with decades of experience leave or move to Texas because they can't afford to teach anymore, and on the other end she can't find qualified people to fill the gaps. 

"I go to job fairs all the time, and I'm standing there waiting for people to come to my booth," she said. "We're Jenks, and typically Jenks has a large recruitment force - and the booth next to me in Texas is getting a lot business but not the booths from Oklahoma." 

Brian Dorman: "Students aware?"
Michelle Sumner: "I hope not. I really hope not. I hope that we have not impacted the quality of education."