State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, while speaking at a Norman Rotary Club meeting, noted that state schools are in a “true crisis” in terms of funding. Hofmeister noted that emergency certifications are up, teacher pay is among the lowest in our region, and that our schools our hurting financial.
But while she declined to choose a side on the penny sales tax issue, it was her comments regarding school consolidation that concerned some state parents and educators.
We emailed Hofmeister’s office to seek clarification of her position.
With more than 530, I agree with those who suggest Oklahoma has too many school districts. However, I believe any efforts to share resources, merge or consolidate districts must include or be led by those directly affected by such actions. Those closest to problems have the best hope of solving them, and this certainly includes locally elected school boards and their communities. I am deeply concerned about providing access to a high quality education for all Oklahoma students and will continue my focus to provide higher results for kids.
While the Norman Transcript article suggests that Hofmeister does not fully support consolidation, it doesn’t as clearly state that she is against forcing schools to go that route.
Hofmeister: State in ‘true crisis’
District consolidation is a common discussion topic, particularly during times of economic crisis. Hofmeister said Oklahoma has too many districts, but any approach to consolidating districts needs to be nuanced.
“We have more than 530 districts — I think that’s too many districts,” she said. “How we do it is the key. We have to respect that these decisions have a tremendous impact on communities.”
Hofmeister also stated that she opposes forced consolidation of schools, according to a September 2014 in the Red Dirt Report.