EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify that decisions regarding administrative versus teacher spending are made by local school districts.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new report from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency Oversight (LOFT) Committee on the distribution of state funds for K-12 public education cited a number of fiscal challenges with the department’s funds distribution, including a possible discrepancy with administrators and their salaries compared to classroom teachers.
Presented in a hearing Tuesday attended by the LOFT Oversight Committee, the July report sought to address a number of objectives, including establishing how funds are distributed, assessing the level of transparency and accountability of funds, categorizing “instructional” and “non-instructional” expenditures, and identifying expenditure categories tied to measurable outcomes, while identifying opportunities for the State to better align educational expenditures to outcomes.
The full 118-page report can be read in its entirety, below:
The evaluation resulted in four key findings, including the following:
(1) Oklahoma’s outdated funding formula fails to account for the needs of today’s students
(2) Despite increased investments in common education, the proportion spent on student instruction has remained flat
(3) Current school finance governance limits accountability of education expenditures
(4) The legislature’s ability to assess educational investments and outcomes is hindered by the limited delivery of comprehensive data.
One fiscal challenge KFOR identified: saying the Department of Education’s spending on administration outweighed teacher spending over a 10-year-period. The OSDE is responsible for oversight and tracking of the individual districts’ spending and spending decisions are made on a local level.
“During the same time there was no growth in student enrollment, administrative positions have a higher average salary than teachers,” said Mike Jackson, Executive Director of LOFT.
Jackson said if growth for the administrative staff had followed student enrollment needs between 2011 and 2021, approximately $26.4 million in salary and benefits for school administrative staff could have been available to hire an equivalent of 500 teachers.
“While LOFT notes the impact of the teacher pay raise during the same period, it fails to note the pay raises for support staff,” countered State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, also saying that the percent increase in central services is only 24.9 percent, making its increase well below that of instruction, when changes to funding codes and other legislative adjustments are taking into account.
LOFT also pointed out that the state was under-supporting bilingual students, students in certain grade levels and students with economic disadvantages.