Teachers, administrators and students from across Oklahoma rallied at the state capitol building in Oklahoma City to bring attention to years of budget cuts.
The event, sponsored by the Oklahoma Education Coalition, was intended to draw attention to the need for better funding for public education.
According to the Oklahoma Education Association, Oklahoma has made the largest cuts to school funding across the nation. Since 2008, records show state funding for schools has decreased more than $200 million, there are 1,500 fewer teachers and the student population has grown by nearly 40,000 students.
Poteau Schools Superintendent Dr. Don Sjoberg said the Poteau School District has absorbed the funding gap from the state and has not had to cut and programs or services to its students, but that may not be the case if budget cuts continue.
“Some of these things may not continue to be offered in the same quality way we’ve done in the past, ” said Sjoberg. “For instance, our Pre-K program, early childhood programs. We just cannot continue to draw in our general funds in order to maintain those projects because we’ll just eventually run out of money.”
Oklahoma parents worry that continued cuts to education may have a negative impact on their children’s futures.
“If we want a quality workforce in the future, then we better start investing in our kids now,” said BJ Barnes, a father of four Poteau Schools students and rally attendee.