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March 31, 2014

Rally energizes Empire superintendent

OKLAHOMA CITY — Among the thousands who attended an education rally at the Oklahoma Capitol on Monday was Empire Superintendent Vicki Davison, who said she thought estimated crowd of about 25,000 was actually closer to  40,000.

 Empire was the only school district in Stephens County to close classes so that teachers, staff and students could attend the rally.

“It was wonderful, a lot of energy,” Davison said.

“We’re hoping to change the direction of the legislators,” she added. “We need to make kids a priority in this state. If we value our kids like we say we do, we need to put our tax money there. We haven’t been getting the message across. Hopefully, we sent message more clearly.”

A few support staff remained on the Empire campus while about 40 went to the rally, Davison said.

“Schools are hurting everywhere. It’s not just a rural problem. Oklahoma City is also hurting just as much as anyone else,” she said.

Sen. Corey Brooks, R-Washington,  said a fair number of people from his district attended Monday’s education rally in hopes of bringing the need for more funding to the forefront of legislators’ minds.

Brooks said he felt progress was made and some concerns were expressed through the rally.

“There seemed to be a great number of educators who came up,” Brooks said. “We had several very nice, very cordial meetings. We reached some consensus. Education still needs a  lot of work. Some of the reforms still need tweaking.”

Education funding is a concern of everyone, not just educators, Brooks said.

Legislators want to provide more funding to education but said funding in all areas of the state are being restricted, not just education, he said.

“Funding is a problem. But unlike the federal government, we can’t make more money. We’re bound by a set budget,” he said.

He said to get more funding in the state’s education, there needs to be more money coming into the state. He said the legislature did provide more funding for education in 2013, but that will become more of a challenge because the state has $88 million less to do the same thing.

“We’re not shirking our duties,” Brooks said. “We just need to get more money in the state and in the classroom.”

 

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