Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brumbaugh: Why Aren't Dollars Going To Classrooms? Is the Overrriding Question

With years of watching an expanding percentage of budget dollars spent on education costs, legislators are looking at how to get more dollars to the classroom for direct instructional expenditures where they belong.

Education currently makes up well over half of appropriations statewide, noted state Rep. David Brumbaugh, who today sponsored an interim study on the subject.

Although Oklahoma is a relatively low-income state, Brumbaugh said statistics indicate Oklahoma still ranks high in spending on education as a percentage of income.

“Oklahomans spend $5.4 billion on education, or $8,411 per student a year according to the Friedman Foundation, which doesn’t include the dedicated revenues that are going to schools that don’t go through the appropriations process,” said Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow. “That alone indicates we need greater transparency and accountability on actual costs. Furthermore, funding for things like debt service, CareerTech, bursars, pensions, or depreciation on buildings and assets are not currently included in those figures; I believe that data should be made easily accessible to the public. Overall, costs continue to go up, yet in many school districts less than half of expenditures are getting to the classroom.”

It is estimated that only 51 percent of state public education employees are actually teachers, Brumbaugh noted. The rest is compromised of support services, administration, and other services.

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