Severe Budget Crisis Hits Bixby Schools, but No Teaching Positions Cut

1477938002:93

93

Heather Randolph, Reporter

Bixby opened its doors to its first class in 1917, but this year marks a milestone for the senior class and all the other grades because the school district has had severe budget setbacks, but no loss of teachers.

The state budget for this school year takes away $67 million from all Oklahoma schools, which is $112 million less than the year before. Due to the budget cuts, nearly 4 percent of teachers lost their jobs statewide.  However, no teachers in Bixby were laid off due to these budget cuts.

Still, there were other places $1.7 million in cuts had to be made, mainly in administrative and support positions, according to Superintendent Kyle Wood. For instance, Bixby schools no longer have an Advanced Placement testing coordinator, one gifted and talented position, an assistant principal and a graduation coach. There were also cutbacks in coaching and several other support areas.

Bixby’s staff won’t let the budget cuts stop them from being the best educators they can be. No class room has more than 34 students. Many teachers who were also coaches are not being paid as much as they were in previous years, Bixby High School Principal Terry Adams says.

Adams has shown no signs of wavering optimism and sees the situation as “we’re all having to do a little more with a little less.” Students are being asked to bring copy paper because of the budget cuts. Some teachers are doubling their workloads while getting paid the same, if not less, than last year, he says. Janitors clean every other day, so the budget cuts’ effects last well after the school day is over.

Bixby Ninth Grade Center Principal Kate Creekmore uses the analogy of a glass being half full, not half empty.

“There is enough negativity in this world and we try to be the bright spot in a kid’s day,” she says.

Creekmore stresses that students are every staff member’s priority. Each principal and teacher have had to make decisions, some easy and some not so simple.

“There may be 30 kids in a class, but at least we have jobs,” Creekmore says in reference to Bixby not cutting teachers.

It is easy to cut funds when people can’t see what their money actually does for a school. Adams says not eliminating teachers’ positions helped parents and students not notice the budget cuts as much as those in other school districts.