TULSA, Okla. – With less than two weeks until lawmakers must deliver a budget to close a nearly $900 million shortfall, Oklahoma teachers are preparing for the worst.
In March, lawmakers asked each state agency to think about how it would handle a nearly 15 percent budget reduction.
The Oklahoma Department of Education announced that teachers would lose their jobs and schools may close as a result of a cut.
“I think it is unacceptable that we have four-day school weeks for our children. You’ve heard me say this but I have visited with major companies looking at moving jobs to a state and I’ve heard from several of them that tell me, ‘Governor, your state’s so poor you only fund schools for four days a week. How can I convince my employers, my businesses to want to come to your state when you won’t fund your schools? And I can’t find an educated, quality, skilled workforce if your people are uneducated in your state,” Gov. Fallin said.
Teachers across the state say they have been dealing with budget cuts for the past several years, and it is taking a toll.
Oklahoma teachers are some of the lowest paid educators in the country and many say their salary is not enough to make ends meet.
Recently, an Oklahoma educator asked teachers what they had to do in order to pay the bills, and the response was overwhelming.
Hundreds of teachers responded with most saying they work at least one extra job.
Kerry Winegardner, a teacher in Broken Arrow, told FOX 23 that she and her husband were forced to work second jobs in order to survive. She has since been able to quit her second job, but her husband still works both jobs.
“It’s the kids who are sacrificing more than we are. They’re getting the losing end of the stick and it’s not fair,” Winegardner said.