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Budget priorities for 2020-2021 academic year

posted Feb 8, 2020, 3:22 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Feb 8, 2020, 3:22 AM ]
February 2020

What we hear from our local legislators and others at the state level is that it would be safest to plan for a flat budget for schools in 2020-2021, although we will continue to advocate for increased per-pupil funding since Oklahoma’s remains the lowest in the region and the number of teachers with emergency certification has continued to increase statewide even with two consecutive years of significant salary improvements.

A high priority is improving class sizes, with the state moving toward gradually re-imposing HB 1017-style class size limits of 20 students in elementary classes and 140 students per day for secondary school teachers. Our current elementary class size targets are 23 in Pre-Kindergarten, 24 in Kindergarten, and 25 in First Grade through Fifth Grade. Our middle school teachers currently average 100 students per day, and our high school teachers currently average 120 students per day.

We intend to follow the state’s lead in focusing first on reducing early childhood class sizes, with new local targets of 20 in Pre-Kindergarten which gradually rise to 23 in Third Grade. We project those can be achieved by rebalancing our staffing, which will mean reducing some secondary teaching positions at both middle schools and BHS and adding elementary positions while keeping our secondary class load averages well below the HB 1017 limit.

This is part of a strategic approach to achieve long-term, sustainable, and lasting gains for students, which includes maintaining our commitments to recent successful initiatives such as the ATLAS elementary alternative program.

2020-2021 Budget Priorities

  • Attract and retain teachers and support personnel: fully fund a step increase for all staff

  • Improve class sizes: reduce Pre-Kindergarten through Third Grade class sizes

  • Hire an elementary technology integration specialist: provide year-round professional development and support given the positive impact of the secondary position added in 2019-2020 and the influx of Chromebooks in the elementary schools

  • Build out the Agriculture Education program: add a second teacher to that new program so that it will be able to offer a complete course sequence to students

  • Special Services: ensure the existing programs have appropriate workloads

  • School Resource Officer: explore expanding our partnership with the City of Bartlesville to add a third SRO to provide increased services across the nine school sites