COMANCHE, OK (KSWO) – In the town of Comanche, a dozen teachers have opted for early retirement after learning state budget cuts would cost twelve full-time teachers their jobs.
The Comanche Public Schools superintendent says the district had to eliminate nearly $500 thousand from their budget this year, costing the school several of its programs including middle school physical education and lower elementary music. The superintendent says several teachers taking different roles for the upcoming year ensures the students will not suffer.
Melinda Kinnaird is a third-grade teacher at Comanche Elementary School and says she was not surprised to hear about what the teachers had decided to do.
"It means the world to me. It means my job. It means that they did something not just for them but they thought about us and like I said, we're all family here and I really appreciate it and I know other teachers really appreciate it too," Kinnaird said.
Superintendent Terry Davidson says there are some employees who will be working part-time shifts instead of their full-time shifts, and that the district will be going to 6-hour days instead of the 7-hour days they are used to. Davidson says the changes will keep the school afloat but won't necessarily be liked by everyone.
"It affects the electives more than anything because you protect your core subjects as much as you can. So there will be students who will want to take an elective and won't be able to. So it just decreases the offerings but not nearly as much as would have been required if we made the wholesale cuts," Davidson said.
Davidson says having to make those changes is just one more frustrating part of the Oklahoma education crisis currently going on.
"It's unfortunate that we live in a state where we continue to not appreciate those people, as a state, the way we should and it's unfortunate that we're having to ask them to do more and more. It's fortunate that we have the kind of people who are willing to do that," Davidson said.
On top of the cut programs, the school will also have more students per classroom than usual for the upcoming year. Kinnaird says it is her job to teach the students, no matter how many end up in her class.
"It's going to be challenging but I'm expecting it to be fun and we'll do anything we can do to get the kids learning. I'll probably be challenged with trying to reach every child that I can. It'll keep me on my toes but I'm ready," Kinnaird said.
Superintendent Davidson says the cuts are spread out among the elementary, middle and high schools and that they are already prepared if more education cuts come during the school year.