Local schools brace for more education cuts

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 2/28/2013 10:11 am Published: 2/27/2013 5:39 pm

Halfway through the week kids can barely wait for the weekend, but the same cannot be said for teachers and parents in school districts across Oklahoma with automatic cuts set to go into effect on Friday.
This could have a significant impact on teacher’s jobs and class sizes.

Teachers and administrators welcome the quiet moments after a busy day, but the silence they’re hearing from Congress right now is like a warning siren to them. Based on budget estimates in Washington, there is a very real possibility that dozens of teachers in Oklahoma could be laid off and even more kids placed in overcrowded classrooms.

Stepping inside the Lolly Garden at Utica Square, its clear the owner of this store loves children. Marlow Perkins Sipes tells FOX23 that she spends close to 30 hours a week here catering to her customers. She also spends hours lobbying the state legislature for more money for her kids’ education. It’s a passion so dear to her heart, that the thought of more spending cuts truly disappoints her.

"I think it's really sad for Oklahoma because we have really taken a major blow to funding towards education, and I feel like with sequestration this is just another major blow,” she says.

Here are some numbers from the Federal Office of Management and Budget on how some of the cuts would break down.
If sequestration were to take effect, some of the impacts on Oklahoma could include the loss of $4.9 million dollars for primary and secondary education funding. And that would actually put 70 teacher and school aid jobs at risk. In addition, Oklahoma could stand to lose $7.3 million dollars in funds for education for children with disabilities.

“How many more blows can our children take? Our class sizes are gradually increasing and it's hard for a teacher to run an effective, and quality classroom with a large number of students,” she says.

Despite the grim outlook, Marlow says she’s amazed at how positive teacher attitudes are even with the increased cuts and booming class sizes. She is encouraging all parents to write to their representative in Congress to let them know that cuts to education will not be tolerated.
You can find more information at www.49thisnotokay.org.

Other area districts also tell us they’re anticipating significant cuts. Jenks is estimating a loss of $400,000 in federal assistance.

Union says it could lose more than $1 million dollars and the PTA in Broken Arrow is forecasting a drop in funding that tops $416,000.

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