Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) continued his call Wednesday for an evaluation of school administrative costs.
“During her comments to the Senate Appropriations Committee, State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister agreed with what I have been saying for years ? Oklahoma has too many school districts,” Loveless said. “I hope the Superintendent will support my legislation to create a task force to study this issue and submit recommendations to the legislature.”
During the 2013-2014 school year, Oklahoma had more than 520 superintendents whose total income cost the state nearly $50 million.
“Superintendent salaries and benefits aren’t the only issue here,” Loveless said. “IT costs, assistant superintendents, clerks, curriculum directors and several other positions could be shared by multiple districts in order to reduce the overall cost of running our schools. The more we save on the administrative side, the more we can put into the classroom.”
Loveless pointed out that modern transportation has done away with the need for the multitude of schools that were built in Oklahoma when a majority of students depended on horseback rather than vehicles to get to school.
“The Territorial Legislature established a school every nine square miles to ensure students could get to a school on horseback,” Loveless explained. “We have reduced that number slowly over time as transportation has improved, but now is the time to really study how we can modernize our education system and reduce expenses outside of the classroom.”
“The state of Oregon has the exact same population as Oklahoma but more students and yet has only 200 school districts. I don’t find it a coincidence that their average teacher pay is $12,000 more than Oklahoma’s,” Loveless said. “When we spend 52 cents of every tax dollar on education, we must put everything on the table for the sake of our children’s education.”
Loveless is the author of Senate Bill 18 which creates a task force to study administrative costs in schools. SB 18 is awaiting a committee hearing in the House of Representatives.