Tulsa Street School funding restored
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
6/06/12 at 7:45 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The state Board of Education on Tuesday restored funding to Tulsa's Street School and for certified teacher bonuses.
In a special meeting, the board voted to restore $185,000 to the Street School, which in previous years has been nearly 15 percent of its overall revenue.
Street School is a nonprofit organization that annually serves about 140 students, age 14 to 19, who have dropped out, or who are at risk of dropping out, because of homelessness, abuse, family dysfunction or poverty. Its combination of alternative education classes and therapeutic counseling is a national model for helping at-risk youths succeed.
Executive Director Lori McGinnis-Madland thanked lawmakers and others who helped "impact" the state education budget so that Street School could be funded.
"While $185,000 may not be a significant amount to many, it is crucial to us so that we may continue providing full wrap-around services for our at-risk youth," McGinnis-Madland said. "Our success speaks volumes over our 38-year history of serving the Tulsa community."
The state Department of Education's fiscal year 2013 budget has $453 million in the activities fund, up from the previous year's funding of $401 million. Last month, legislators approved nearly flat funding levels and directed that more than $445 million be spent on line items, including flexible benefits allowances for teachers and school support personnel, early childhood education, alternative education, and bonuses for board-certified teachers.
After receiving no funding last year, the board-certified teacher bonuses will see $11.7 million this year.
The board also approved $7.1 million to fund implementation of reform measures the Legislature passed in the past year, including the social promotion law and the grading system for schools based on an A-to-F scale.
The social promotion law refers to a new requirement to take effect in 2013 that third-graders pass a reading test to be moved on to fourth grade.
The board also restored a portion of funds to programs such as Great Expectations, the FIRST Robotics competition and A+ Schools. It also protected funding for items such as the Oklahoma Arts Institute and Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom.
Still, the number of dollars appropriated wasn't enough to fund $6.2 million for reading sufficiency programs, $2.3 million in matching state funds for adult education programs and other programs.
Several educators pleaded with the board to restore state funding to adult education programs. The state aid is needed to draw matching federal funds. Adult educators maintained that helping adults get their GEDs allows them to help their children become better educated.
State Superintendent Janet Barresi said she agreed.
"Basically the Legislature left us with only $10.5 million to have discretion over. I'd like to do everything possible to get it funded. It has a real impact," she said.
Last December, the board asked the state Legislature for a $157 million budget increase, but it received only $3 million for the activities fund. Lawmakers gave common education a total appropriation of $2.34 billion.
Regarding the board's budget approval, Barresi said the members made the best of a difficult year.
"We intend to immediately begin working to seek a supplemental appropriation from the Legislature next year to offset some very painful cuts. In particular, we'll be asking for a supplemental appropriation to help with reading sufficiency funds. With very few dollars available, the board simply couldn't fund those items," the superintendent said.
World Staff Writer Andrea Eger contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: Funding restored for Street School
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard speaks as state Superintendent Janet Barresi listens at the Oklahoma State Board of Education Meeting held at Will Rogers College High School April 26, 2012. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World