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.