Could fewer superintendents lead to teacher raises?

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Facing a massive budget shortfall, Oklahoma is trying to find a way to hire more teachers and increase academic performance.

One lawmaker wonders - how much money would be saved if there were fewer superintendents?

"I just don't believe that as a taxpayer, the money is getting to where it needs to go," State Senator Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) said.  "When
we're six hundred and eleven million dollars in the hole, I think everything needs to be on the table."

Loveless said Oklahoma has too many school districts - and therefore spends too much money on administrative costs.

His Senate Bill 18 would create a task force to see if education really needs all those positions.

Loveless says Oklahoma has nearly 520 superintendents who cost the state about $50 million dollars.

Compare that to the state of Oregon, he said, which has the same population, but only 200 school districts.

The savings in administrative costs goes to their teacher salaries - which average nearly $12,000 more than Oklahoma's.

"If we have that many duplication of offices, if we scrunch that number down, we would have more funding that would go towards the classroom," Loveless
said.

Joshua Sumrall, Superintendent of Coyle, disagrees with the cost-cutting strategy.

"Kids would suffer," he said.  "They would ride buses longer."

Coyle is only 13 miles from Guthrie, but Sumrall says consolidating is not the answer because in small towns, the superintendents and principals
wear many hats.

"We do janitorial duties, we're bus drivers," he said.  "I'm the head baseball coach and head basketball coach in our school district. To add 300 of our students (to Guthrie) would just not save them money at all."

Loveless said no schools would actually be closing as part of any administrative cost cutting.

He said superintendents that retire could simply not be replaced.

Their duties could be delegated.

If formed, the task force would present their legislative recommendations in November.

SB18 is awaiting a committee hearing in the House of Representatives.

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