OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Responding to recent discussion throughout the district about his stance on proposed legislation that would force school consolidation, State Senator Joseph Silk issued the following statement today:
“Over the past several days, I have been in contact with many constituents in southeastern Oklahoma regarding a widespread rumor that I am in support of consolidating schools districts as a solution to the budget shortfall. Let me be very clear - I am not in support of the forced school consolidation legislation that has been introduced this year. I do not know where this false information originated, but in their current form, I have serious concerns with the proposed school consolidation bills that have been introduced.
First, if our small rural schools are doing a good job educating our children, then the state should leave well enough alone. We need to support the education of our children, no matter how small the school. Second, this approach may work in an urban area where there are schools situated within a mile or two of each other, but for rural Oklahoma where schools are many miles apart, we should not force our students to be on buses for hours every day just because they live in a rural area. Lastly, I have not seen where school consolidation actually saves a substantial amount of money. Perhaps that evidence is out there, but as of today, no one has presented it to me for review. Even if it is, we should be cognizant of the pitfalls of compromising the education of children in order to save a few dollars.
I understand that some tough decisions will need to be made this year in order to get Oklahoma in a better financial state. However, it is imperative that we do this in the correct manner. Again, let me be clear. Without substantial modifications to these school district consolidation bills that would fit the needs of rural Oklahoma, I will not support them.”