The Edmond Sun

Education

August 30, 2013

Schools: $2,000 raise proposed by Barresi not sustainable

‘Carry-over funds’ pay operating expenses until first of year

EDMOND — Superintendent Janet Barresi recently announced her desire for districts to provide teachers a $2,000 across-the-board raise. Barresi said the plan would cost $100 million annually, which Barresi proposed be funded primarily from school district carryover funds.

Two state legislators joined superintendents across the state in saying the proposal is not sustainable for districts.

Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, and Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, oversee funding for common education in Oklahoma. They agree that spending one-time money on a reoccurring cost jeopardizes future operations of the state’s school districts as it would only be a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

“I’m very excited about the thought that we might be able to give our teachers raises, but being in the business I’m in, I certainly worry about a funding source, and a dedicated funding source, so that we could keep the raises funded every year,” Denney said.

Denney and Halligan both said Monday they support an effort to increase teacher pay, but that it would be difficult for the Legislature to come up with the $100 million needed to fund the plan each year after the initial raise.

In Edmond, Superintendent David Goin said, “Certainly, we would all be in agreement that an increase is needed to compensate Oklahoma teachers at a more appropriate and competitive level.

“Interestingly, the state superintendent suggested that the primary source of funding for the increase come from local districts’ existing year-end fund balances. What is implied is that the June 30 general fund cash balance represents ‘surplus’ funding. From an Edmond perspective, I would respond, rather, that a carefully managed fund balance provides adequate cash flow to allow us to meet obligations. It certainly does not represent an available ‘surplus’ for discretionary spending. Used to fund a salary increase, it would represent an expenditure of one-time monies for a recurring obligation.”

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