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“Key” educational program cut by Oklahoma lawmakers in light of $900 million budget shortfall

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The state's education budget cuts are a hot topic across the state.

With 'STEM ready school' funding slashed, many educators are concerned what this might mean for our students' futures.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs are designed to prepare students for life in those fields.

In fact, these programs were deemed "a key component to strengthening the Oklahoma workforce" just three years ago by former State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

"I truly believe in my heart and soul that a solid STEM education for Oklahoma students is going to result in the increased prosperity of the state," explained Dr. Frank Wang.

Wang knows all too well the benefits of STEM.

He's president of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, a STEM based school that teaches some of Oklahoma's best and brightest.

"Many people consider it to be the engine that drives the economy," said Wang.

That sentiment is echoed by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

"I think we really have to be careful not to slide backwards in our efforts in STEM," said Dr. Stephen Prescott. "This is something that's going to pay for the future."

OSSM will not be affected by this round of STEM cuts, but they are facing other cuts.

"I've already been told we have to look for ways to cut up to 10 percent," said Wang. "For us , that's a lot."

But, with the state facing a near $1 billion deficit, these cuts were widely expected.

"It's a challenging situation to be in," said Wang. "I don't envy the State Superintendent of Schools."

"I would not want to be a member of the legislature, having to make these hard decisions," said Prescott.