Home > Uncategorized > Reason #12 to Pick a New State Superintendent: Holding Back State Aid

Reason #12 to Pick a New State Superintendent: Holding Back State Aid

June 10, 2014

I know you’ve been expecting at least one post a day from me over the last couple of weeks. Maybe today the things that are necessary won’t get in the way of the things that provide release. Two-for-Tuesdays, right?

Maybe I didn’t show up yesterday because I thought there was a candidate debate and I was the incumbent! Wait, that’s not me. I’m thinking of someone else. In case you were wondering whether Dr. Barresi was still making public appearances, I assure you she is. In fact, here she is Thursday in Bartlesville at an event sponsored by ConocoPhillips.

Barresi Campaign 1 Barresi Campaign 2

To be fair, the guy in the second picture looks vaguely like fellow MIA Republican candidate Brian Kelly. Maybe she was debating him.

Janet Barresi, this spot in our countdown is for you. Since you never show up at debates anymore, we’ll make it our Long Distance Dedication. First, a reminder of the last few memories we’ve painfully relived.

#16 – Questionable Personnel Decisions

#15 – Pulling out of PARCC

#14 – Value-added Measurements

#13 – Being Damned

#12 – Holding Back State Aid

While Rob Miller has been weaving through the tangled financial web of the SDE for the last few days, I have been wondering how things would have been different in this state if Janet Barresi trusted schools. She spends a lot of money on out-of-state firms to help us understand how to teach to Oklahoma values. She has increased personnel spending at the SDE (in spite of what her campaign ads say), while hiring (in many cases) inexperienced policy people to do a job that had previously been done well by a veteran educator. She even let a guy work via Skype for a few weeks and make more money than a beginning teacher.

As I mentioned when discussing the #17 reason last week, the SDE made the inexplicable decision in July 2012 to withhold more than twice the mandated amount of funding from school districts at the beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The SDE has made the conscious decision to withhold a greater portion of state aid for schools. As the Tulsa World explains, “the education department withheld nearly $64 million, or 3.52 percent, of all state aid, compared to the $41 million, or 2.26 percent it kept in reserve at the beginning of 2011-12.” The article is a great read, with typical flimsy excuses from SDE staff, comments from Tulsa-area administrators about the real impact of this decision, and even a caustic remark from a legislator who is frustrated with all of this.

The World goes on to discuss the fact that all the large districts in the Tulsa area will receive less aid than last year. In short, the SDE tells districts not to worry – the money will come at the mid-term adjustment. In the meantime, it would be irresponsible for districts to set staffing levels based on what might happen in December. Districts that are growing at a fast pace will be teaching more students with less money. All of this occurs in the backdrop of numerous sea-change reforms to public education, all of which are costing school districts tremendous amounts of money.

This arrogant cash grab was made either in ignorance of the fact or with full knowledge of the fact that school districts need to make as many of their personnel decisions before the first day of school as possible. Holding out money until December forces schools to under-hire for programs such as tutoring. When they finally got the remainder of their allocation, it was less than expected.

This came at a time when Barresi was actively trying to increase charter school and virtual school enrollment – at the expense of your neighborhood schools. At the same time, districts were being forced to wait half a year on having their federal claims reimbursed by the SDE. In some cases, they were out millions.

Schools have to function with the funds they have available. During this particular school year, the SDE – partly by design, partly by incompetence – made sure those funds were low. If this really had been a good idea (doubling the amount of State Aid held back), the SDE would have done it twice.

I half-heartedly laugh now, thinking of all the places where the SDE has thrown the state’s money during the last 42 months. REAC3H (network and coaches) – gone! Common Core – gone! Measured Progress – gone! CTB – oh wait, they seem to have more lives than a cat! As Rob points out, we have hired all kinds of people from out of state to develop a statistical model for good instruction (which anyone will tell you is fool’s gold). Why couldn’t we hire our own university researchers to do that? It’s also a wasted opportunity to build on the relationship between Common Ed and Higher Ed in this state.

With that last paragraph, I’ve inadvertently previewed the next two spots on the countdown.

11 Evolution of the REAC3H Network

10 Ignoring the OU/OSU Researchers

If you need me today, I’ll be the one practicing my “air quotes.”

  1. robbie Canada
    June 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    There are so many of us who appreciate your insight and yes, humor in this difficult time. I’m personally sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear about the REACH and C3 debacle and where are those monies have gone and are going…


  2. June 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I believe that Brian Kelley is in that primary race to split Hofmeister’s vote. Almost sure that he has a job promised to him at SDE if JB gets in again, which isn’t looking good right now.


  3. Brooke
    June 11, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Brian Kelly also ran in 2010. I do not believe that he is running soley to split votes. He is a 3rd generation educator, so I would guess that he is just as fed us with Barresi as anyone.


  1. June 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm
  2. June 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm
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