By Justin Lofton
As budget woes for education continue, administrators are looking to see where they can most easily decrease funding.
While Latta Public Schools’ administration has been able to get by without going through reductions in force, Roff Public Schools have not been as fortunate.
“We have reduced our part-time and full-time staff by 12 positions over the past year,” Craig McVay, Roff Public Schools superintendent, said. “This reduction includes maintenance, teacher’s aides and certified teachers. We have also cut our administrative salary and all other expenditures.”
Cliff Johnson, Latta Public Schools superintendent, said the school would be looking at not hiring for vacated positions.
McVay said Roff has been trying to save in the way of hiring fewer substitute teachers.
“We began the school year by only hiring substitutes when classes can’t be covered any other way. They have been limited all year long,” McVay said.
Johnson said Latta has routinely tried to keep the budget lean in the substitute teacher department.
“We have always kept the hiring of substitutes to a minimum,” Johnson said. “Our staff members routinely volunteer to cover their colleagues’ classes during their planning period in order to help our district save money.”
Both McVay and Johnson said they are not currently planning to decrease programming in their school. Johnson said, however, there is a freeze on adding new programs. Neither superintendents will be cutting extra-curricular activities and both say consolidation is not an option on the table.
“Consolidation is a political scare tactic used in every budget crisis over the last 25 years,” McVay said. “Until someone can prove that students excel in a large school setting over those in a small school setting, schools like Roff will continue to give all of their students a great, competitive, marketable education.”
McVay said Blaine Greteman, David Boren and Carl Albert were all Rhodes Scholars from small schools in rural Oklahoma.
Both McVay and Johnson said they are currently not looking at changing their schools’ five-day-week schedules.
Casey McCaskill, mother of a son about to enter the Roff school system, said Roff’s music and art programs have never been very big and she is worried about them.
“I haven’t heard if those have been cut yet but I know Roff has never had anything extensive like that,” she said. McCaskill said she is confident that Roff’s academic programming will remain intact.
Johnson and McVay said their schools are still standing and ready to weather more of the economic storm without seeing much ill-effect on the school, provided the storm doesn’t last too long.
“Latta School is fiscally prepared to weather tough times for a year or two,” Johnson said. “If our school continues to be funded at a reduced level, then our district would have to consider all options to reduce expenditures in order to maintain the financial stability of the district. I am definitely concerned that the Oklahoma economy may take several years to improve. Historically, Oklahoma is an oil and natural gas state and because of the ‘boom/bust’ nature of the oil field, our state economy can have many upward and downward cycles.”