KGOU

State Superintendent Requests More Funding, Despite Budget Shortfall

Dec 16, 2015

Joy Hofmeister, superintendent of public instruction, listens to a question from the audience during the "Oklahoma Watch-Out" forum on March 3.
Credit Ilea Shutler / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma budget writers will likely face a $900 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, and declining revenue could force mid-year cuts to current agency appropriations.

But the state's top schools administrator is requesting an additional $78 million for next year's education budget.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says the Department of Education will need an additional $47 million to keep up with student population growth, and an additional $30 million for health care benefits for teachers, which are mandated by law.

She said she realizes the state is hurting financially, but budget cuts, even a flat budget, would mean larger classes and cutting some courses.

“We’re talking about things as basic as chemistry, or physics, or calculus, trig,” Hofmeister said.

The superintendent also included a $60 million addendum to her budget request-seeking a $1,000 pay raise for every teacher in the state. She said the teacher shortage will not be solved in a year, but this will be a good start.