Editorial: Wrong-headed school financing

Why doesn’t Tulsa Public Schools have more money to pay teachers?

Officials from the Oklahoma Department of Education said TPS had carryover funds from the last fiscal year of about $31,000,000 (TPS claims it was only $28,000,000). The overall budget was about $244,000,000.

That means officials held funds in reserve while underpaying classroom teachers and overpaying administrators.

It is prudent to carry over cash from one fiscal year to another and it is important to have a cash reserve for unexpected problems. TPS has a huge cash reserve for bond money (which can’t be used for salaries).

But it is also disingenuous to threaten to shut down programs like libraries, athletic programs and busing plus shortening the school calendar when you have more than $28,000,000 in reserve funds.

Surely, some of that money could be used to cushion the blow of a possible loss of up to $12 million in state funding.  But no, if school superintendents and liberal school board members covered those shortfalls with the stacks of cash in reserve, it would weaken their constant pleas for more money.

Oklahoma already spends more than half of the discretionary funds in the state budget on public education. But that is never good enough for the liberal education moguls. If they can keep teacher salaries artificially low, they have a better case for more and more money. And those rallies at the Capitol are much more effective when they are teacher rallies instead of superintendent rallies.

Oklahomans are fed up with low teacher pay. They are fed up with poor test results. And they are don’t want to raise taxes when money is mishandled.

Legislators don’t set teacher salaries. Superintendents and school boards do.