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Public education in Oklahoma

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K-12 Education in Oklahoma
State Superintendent: Janet Barresi
Number of students: 666,120[1]
Number of teachers: 41,349
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:16.1
Number of school districts: 575
Number of schools: 1,774
Graduation rate: 78%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $7,587[3]
See also
Public education in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Department of Education
Oklahoma school districts
List of school districts in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents.

The Oklahoma state constitution requires that the state offer a general and free public school system. Additionally, the constitution requires that Oklahoma Legislature offer "institutions for the care and education of persons within the state who are deaf, deaf and mute or blind."[4]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Oklahoma state budget
Oklahoma's education costs are 1/2 of the state budget

Per pupil spending for K-12 education in the state decreased $706 between FY2008 and FY2013, a drop of 20.3 percent.[5]

The state of Oklahoma had an approximately $7.2 billion budget for FY 2010, of that education is approximately $3.8 billion, more than half of the total budget.[6] The state is facing an approximately $900 million shortfall for FY 2010.[7]

The cost per pupil is $7,685, ranking 48th in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[8]

Impact of budget woes

  • Despite the dismal budget outlook Gov. Brad Henry emphasized in early 2009 that any budget cuts made would not be in education.[9] But in August 2009, state education officials learned that state officials ordered a 5 percent across-the-board cut in budget allocations to state agencies. However, some school district superintendents predict that budget cuts could be as high as 10% by the end of FY 2010.[10]
  • On August 24, 2009 the Sequoyah County Board of Commissioners filed a lawsuit against the Gore Board of Education. According to the suit, the school board owes the county $13,145.44 for revaluation of school property for FY 2008.[11]

Personnel salaries

According to state reports, the 2009-2010 school year saw absolutely no change from the 2008-2009 minimum teacher salary schedule.[12] Pay for teachers with a Bachelor's Degree ranges from $31,600 to $42,325; a Master's Degree ranges from $34,000 to $43,950; a Doctorate Degree ranges from $34,000 to $46,000. Below is a chart that outlines the Oklahoma minimum salary schedule for the 2009-2010 school year.[13]

Years Experience Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree Doctorate Degree
0 $31,600 $32,800 $34,000
5 $33,500 $34,700 $35,900
10 $35,950 $37,575 $39,625
15 $38,075 $39,700 $41,750
20 $40,200 $41,825 $43,875
25 + $42,325 $43,950 $46,000

Superintendents received a total pay increase of $767,770, with 221 districts increasing the amount spent on superintendents by $1,000 or more. Another 144 reported increases of between $100 and $1,000.[14]

  • 207 superintendents make over $100,000; an increase of 18 over last year.
  • Of those making over $100,000, 149 got raises this year.
  • 52 superintendents make over $125,000 which is more than the salary for the office of State Superintendent.

A similar study was attempted for associate superintendents, but the lack of transparency didn't allow for it.[15]

A study released by CapitolBeatOK found that 202 public school superintendents in the state were paid more than $100,000 a year in 2010-2011. Of these superintendents, 22 make more than the governor of Oklahoma whose salary totals $147,000. Kirby Lehman of Jenks had the highest total compensation at $266,017; Gloria Griffin of Millwood has a total compensation of $170,149, the 11th highest paid, but has the highest per student compensation at $155.67 per student in her system.

In addition to the superintendents who make more than $100,000 per year, public records revealed that ten superintendents earn more than $1,000 per student, one of whom also makes over $100,000 in total compensation.[16]

The 22 highest paid public school superintendents are:

School System Superintendent Amount Paid in 2010-2011
Jenks Public Schools Kirby Lehman $266,017
Ponca City Public Schools David Pennington $229,029
Union Public Schools Catherine Burden $222,474
Tulsa Public Schools Keith Ballard $210,416
Norman Public Schools Joseph Siano $187,989
Midwest City-Del City Schools William Scoggan $185,623
Broken Arrow Public Schools Jarod Mendenhall $176,314
Sand Springs Public Schools Lloyd Snow $174,428
Oklahoma City Public Schools Karl Springer $174, 114
Edmond Public Schools David Goin $170,977
Millwood Public Schools Gloria Griffin $170,149
Leigh Beauchamp $166,787
Deer Creek Public Schools Douglas McDaniel $162,486
Ardmore Public Schools Ruth Carr $160,802
Enid Public Schools Shawn Hime $156,295
Putnam City Public Schools Paul Hurst $155,180
Bixby Public Schools Robert Wood $152,648
Noble Public Schools Gregory Kausbam $150,856
Locust Grove David Cash $150,538
Owasso Public Schools Clark Ogilvie $150,102
Muskogee Public Schools Michael Garde $149,751
Sperry Public Schools James Sisney $147,300

Role of unions

The main unions related to the Oklahoma school system is the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), a part of the larger National Education Association, and AFT Oklahoma. For the 2003 tax period OEA had: $5.21 billion in total assets, $6.66 billion in total income and $6.59 billion in expenses.[17]

List of local Oklahoma school unions:[18]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is the governing and policy-making body of the Oklahoma public schools. The board is composed of five board members and one superintendent.[19] The superintendent serves as the president of the board. However, the governor, secretary of state and attorney general serve as ex-officio members of the board.[20]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Oklahoma government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.


See also:Evaluation of Oklahoma school district websites


  • In 2009, Oklahomans for Responsible Government (OFRG), a non-profit founded in January 2008, released a report about the overall transparency of Oklahoma's school districts. According to the report, 79 of the state’s 531 districts (15%) lacked an official website.[21] Additionally, of the 471 districts with technology directors, 59 had no site. According to the organization, they are not calling for states to mandate for school Web sites but instead reminding schools that according to state law they are required to post public meeting agendas."Schools, like other public agencies, should always be on the lookout for ways to better inform taxpayers," said Brian Downs, OFRG executive director.[22]
  • A 2009 study, Leaders and Laggards, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workplace, Frederick M. Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Center for American Progress, gave Oklahoma: "F" in academic achievement; "F" in truth in advertising about student proficiency; "C" in rigor of standards; "D" in post-secondary and workforce readiness; "A" in for its teacher workforce policies; "D" in data quality.[23]

Academic performance

In 2009 reports revealed that 42 schools were placed on the education department's "School Improvement" list and a total of 15 schools qualified this year to be removed from the list.[24] Sixteen of the schools are located in the Oklahoma City Public Schools district, 11 in the Tulsa Public Schools district and 3 in the Union Public Schools district. Other districts with schools on the "school improvement" list are:Watts, Erick, Lawton, Vinita, Sapulpa, Ponca City, Marietta, Crutcho, Midwest City-Del City, Okmulgee, Muskogee and Jay.[25]

The following tables outline the student performance statistics on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests (OCCT) from 2007 and 2008 for grades 3 through 8. The statistics include the percentage of students that scored at a proficient level, the minimum level of academic performance accepted by the No Child Left Behind Act, in reading and math.[26]


Grade 2008 2007
3rd 87% 87%
4th 92% 90%
5th 84% 81%
6th 81% 78%
7th 77% 77%
8th 82% 79%


Grade 2008 2007
3rd 78% 75%
4th 83% 82%
5th 87% 83%
6th 80% 76%
7th 77% 74%
8th 82% 77%

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[27] 2011 Education Spending[28] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[29] 2012 Education Spending[30] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[31] 2011 Avg. ACT score[32] 2012 Avg. ACT score[33] 2010 Graduation Rate[34] 2011 Graduation Rate[35]
Oklahoma $30.3 billion $10.3 billion 33.9% $29.9 billion $10.2 billion 34.1% 20.7 20.7 20.7 77.8% 78.0%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools:A total of 12 districts are authorized to sponsor a charter school. The districts include: Broken Arrow, Edmond, Jenks, Midwest City/Del City, Moore, Mustang, Oklahoma City, Owasso, Putnam City, Sand Springs, Tulsa and Union Public Schools.[36]
  • Public school open enrollment: in Oklahoma, the state has two open enrollment policies: intra-district and inter-district open enrollment. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school within their neighborhood school district or in any alternative district in the state.[37]
  • Online learning: the state of Oklahoma does not offer a state-led online program, however, there are two types of online learning available; one is sponsored by state universities, the other is offered by the Oklahoma University High School.[37]

See also

External links

Additional reading


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Oklahoma Constitution,"Article XIII: Education," accessed August 27, 2009
  5. The Tulsa World "Oklahoma school cuts among nation's highest" Sept. 9, 2012
  6. State of Oklahoma,"FY 2010 Executive Budget," February 2, 2009
  7. Associated Press,"State revenue shortfall $612 million,"February 17,2009
  8. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  9. Tulsa World,"Increased spending, decreased appropriations in Oklahoma's new budget," May 15, 2009
  10. Associated Press,"Oklahoma schools dealing with 5 percent budget cut," August 12, 2009
  11. Sequoyah County Times,"Lawsuit filed against Gore School Board of Education," August 27, 2009
  12. Oklahoma State Department of Education,"2008-2009 Teacher Salary," accessed August 27, 2009
  13. Oklahoma State Department of Education,"Teacher Salary," accessed August 27, 2009
  14. Oklahoma Watchdog, Tough times for education? Not if you’re a superintendent!, Feb. 4, 2011
  15. Oklahoma Watchdog, Assistant Superintendent Salary Report shows need for standards in reporting, Feb. 18, 2011
  16. Analysis: 202 public school superintendents paid more than $100,000 a year, May 3, 2011
  17. Center for Union Facts,"Oklahoma Education Association," accessed August 28, 2009
  18. Center for Union Facts,"Oklahoma teachers unions," accessed August 28, 2009
  19. Oklahoma Board of Education,"Board members," accessed August 27, 2009
  20. Oklahoma Constitution,"Section XIII-5: Board of Education," accessed August 27, 2009
  21. Associated Press,"Study by nonprofit group examines information available on Oklahoma school district Web sites," August 25, 2009
  22. The Oklahoman,"Point and click: Schools can do better job with sites," August 24, 2009
  23. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute,"Oklahoma Education Report Card," accessed November 17, 2009
  24. Tulsa World,"42 Oklahoma schools on education department's 'School Improvement' list," August 27, 2009
  25. Associated Press,"42 schools on state's school improvement list; most are in Oklahoma City and Tulsa," August 27, 2009
  26. Oklahoma State Board of Education,"2007-2008Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP) Results," accessed August 27, 2009
  27. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  28. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  29. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  30. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  31. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  32. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  33. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  34. National Center for Education Statistics
  35. National Center for Education Statistics
  36. Oklahoma State Department of Education,"Charter Schools," accessed August 26, 2009
  37. 37.0 37.1 The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in Oklahoma," accessed August 26, 2009