Budget Cuts Slash Stipend For Oklahoma Teachers

Friday, June 24th 2011, 9:31 pm

By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The budget axe is gutting several programs at Oklahoma schools. The education budget was approved Thursday.

Adult education, incentives for charter schools, robotics programs, middle school math labs, and stipends for National Board Certified teachers were cut out completely.

6/23/2011 Related Story: Teacher Bonuses Among Items Cut By OK Education Board

"That's very frustrating to me, because all of these teachers are going to miss out on going through that process. And not only will the teachers miss out, but all of their students will miss out," Jill Davis,a teacher, said.

Davis, a former early childhood Educator of the Year, is also a National Board-certified teacher.

She called the process, which includes a portfolio and a battery of exams, tougher than getting her master's degree. And she credits it with her classroom success.

"Oh, absolutely! I would not be the teacher that I am today without it," she said.

Davis said a lot of teachers will go without it, now that the state has slashed the stipend for becoming board certified.

"There's a lot of teachers that won't go through it without having that stipend or even the scholarship," she said. "It cost a couple of thousand dollars to go through the process. And without that scholarships many teachers can't afford it."

State Superintendent Janet Barresi said in her weekly address with a nearly $100 million budget shortfall, the cuts were unavoidable.

"It's a new normal," she said. "We must work smarter with less. We must be wise stewards of taxpayer money. And we must operate our state's education system in the most efficient way possible."

"Meeting our obligation to fully fund retirement and flex benefits alone amounts to $300 million doesn't leave much room for other programs," Barresi added.

Some are questioning whether there was enough money set aside to fully fund teachers' health benefits after all.

Tulsa Public Schools chief financial officer crunched the numbers today. According to her calculations, the district's check for those benefits will be short more than $2 million.


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