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OKLAHOMA: State Supt: 'We have more students that are having needs in special education'

Jan 31, 2020, Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK): State education department requests $3.29 billion budget OKLAHOMA CITY — The latest budget request from the Oklahoma State Department of Education received its first bit of legislative scrutiny on Thursday as State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister defended the $3.29 billion price tag. Lawmakers from both House and Senate budget committees heard about the request for $220 million more than last year’s budget for K-12 schools. Hofmeister presented the joint committee with six goals she wants her department to achieve by 2025, including a reduction of emergency-certified teachers and increased reading levels. The nearly hour-long presentation and resulting questions from committee members also looked at efforts to put more counselors in public schools. Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, attended Thursday’s hearing and said she has been thrilled with the direction of Oklahoma education but is unsure if a spending increase is possible. “This year...we’re going to be running a very flat budget, so I don’t know if there is going to be any extra funding,” she said. House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Education Chair Mark McBride said that after two consecutive years of adding funds for classroom support, he anticipates putting more money into the state school funding formula…. While the growth in annual enrollment numbers since 2011 has slowed over the past five years, Hofmeister said during her presentation that some situations for Oklahoma students present mounting challenges for education. “You can see the needs are actually increasing in a greater way over time as we have more students that are having needs in special education, English learners, children who have low socioeconomic status, et cetera,” she said….


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