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Local superintendent reacts to State of the State address

(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)

CACHE, OK (KSWO) - Education topped the list of issues during Governor Mary Fallin's State of the State address today.

She urged lawmakers to act on a teacher pay raise but also announced the creation of a task force to review the state's education funding formula and to reform what she called a top-heavy system, to make sure more money goes to the classroom and teachers.

After watching the governor's State of the State address Cache Public Schools superintendent Chad Hance said he wishes Governor Fallin would spend more understanding what local schools are going through.

"I don't really believe she's in touch with reality with what our public schools are going through right now," Hance said.

One of the issues the Governor raised was sticking to a five-day school week.  After Fallin met with several site selection companies, having shorter weeks raised questions about the possible negative impacts of a four-day week.

"An executive asked me how he could persuade businesses to come to Oklahoma when some of our schools have four day education weeks," Fallin said.

Cache Public Schools gave the shorter week a try towards the end of the school year last year, hoping it would save money, but they didn't save as much as they anticipated. So, the district went back to a five day week. 

With the budget cuts, Hance said he understands why some districts stuck with four-day school weeks.

"It's getting to a point where, you know, we don't have anything left to do," He said. "I mean, we're making due with what we have and trying to do more with less and sometimes you have to think outside the box and I think that's what a lot of schools are doing."

While Fallin is worried about four day weeks preventing new businesses,  Hance said prospective businesses need to look at how state lawmakers have treated the schools in recent years. 

"I'd suggest to business owners to look at our legislators and say you've led the nation in cuts to education in the past eight years," Hance said. "You keep saying it's a priority but we see no action."

Fallin added that teachers need a permanent pay raise, stating it's what teachers and parents want.  Hance agrees that it's long overdue, but he's not sure all teachers want that first.

"If you talk to a lot of teachers some teachers might say instead of the giving us that thousand dollar pay raise, give that money to the school, and let us go hire more teachers so we don't have class sizes with 31 or 32 kids," Hance said.

Hance said he hopes lawmakers will take more action on education during this session because it's what many lawmakers, including Governor Fallin, are calling a priority. 

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