State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is seeking new state funding to add more school counselors and restore state aid for public schools to the level they received a decade ago.
The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved Hofmeister’s education budget request to the Oklahoma Legislature for Fiscal Year 2021 at its monthly meeting on Thursday.
“This proposed budget reflects the needs of Oklahoma students,” Hofmeister said. “We have made great strides in teacher pay and must now continue our investment in classrooms and student support. This budget request will help us reach the goals outlined in our eight-year strategic plan, Oklahoma Edge.”
This is the second year Hofmeister has advocated for new investment in what she calls a “School Counselor Corps” to address Oklahoma’s nation-leading rate of childhood trauma, as well as provide high-schoolers with individual college and career planning.
Last year, she sought $58 million, but the initiative wasn’t funded. For FY21, the education budget request includes $19.2 million for the School Counselor Corps, which is the estimated cost of hiring 366 more counselors across the state.
Oklahoma’s current counselor-to-student ratio of 435 to 1 far exceeds the American School Counselor Association’s recommended ratio of 250 to 1.
The total budget request of $3.29 billion for common education, if approved by the Legislature, would represent a one-year funding increase of $220 million.