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Statewide News

The State Superintendent has recommended a $2,000 pay raise for teachers.  That raise, according to her recommendation, is to be paid from district one-time carry funds, and cuts into local school budgets.  

Tulsa Public School Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard spoke out today about the proposal.

“No one supports increased teacher pay more than I do. In fact, teachers at Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) received a modest step increase on the first day of school, and we are in the process of finalizing negotiations regarding pay with the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association," Ballard said.

"Since 2008, we have worked diligently to cut expenses at the district when we lost $22.8 million in funding.  That work has already been done.  My financial priorities now are teacher pay and increasing the number of teaching positions. I would also argue that there is room for a pay increase among our principal ranks."

“With regard to the suggestion that we pay for a $2,000-per-year pay increase for teachers with the district’s carryover funds, that would not be a fiscally responsible position.  Carryover funds are reserve funds that are used primarily to manage cash flow from fiscal year to fiscal year.  By law, districts are allowed 14 percent carryover.  TPS’s ending fund balance for 2012-13 is $20.7 million, or 6.8 percent of revenue, which is well below what state law allows."
“The estimated cost for a $2,000 increase to teachers (including benefits) would be $6.6 million. Because we were extremely conservative in our spending last year, we have already taken some of the carryover funds and spent an additional $2 million on reading materials to help improve literacy. In addition, we spent $2.5 million on one-time payments to staff (a 2013-14 expense)."

Ballard stated to suggest that carryover funds be used to cover teacher raises is a poor solution, especially given the decline in per-pupil funding experienced over the last five years.  He said a cardinal rule of school finance is not to pay recurring expenses, specifically teacher salaries, from one-time funds, specifically carryover funds.

"We are always looking for ways to cut operating expenses and revisit this every year," Ballard said.

"Let me remind everyone that TPS lost over $22 million during the last budget crisis. We were aggressive in making budget cuts through initiatives like Project Schoolhouse,  an exercise we continue to perform on an annual basis and these cuts have already taken place through closed schools, administrative and teacher cuts, holds on the refilling of positions, etc."

"While Oklahoma teachers are deserving of a $2,000 pay increase, we will have to appeal to our state legislators to find a way to make this possible.  We need a better long-term solution."

Oklahoma Insurance Claims from May Tornadoes Top $1 Billion

Oklahoma tornado damamge

OKLAHOMA CITY – Insurance payments from the May tornado outbreak across central Oklahoma have now topped $1 billion.

“These numbers are staggering,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “We’ve topped $1 billion in payments and the rebuilding is just beginning. We expected to see these amounts and they continue to go up every week. This is a major catastrophe that’s impacted thousands of Oklahomans. Some survivors are still dealing with insurance and rebuilding issues. We can’t fix everything overnight, but we will be here for them until the last claim is paid.”

Oklahomans have filed nearly 91,000 claims since May 19th, but some are still dealing with unresolved insurance claims, which is not uncommon three to four months after a large-scale disaster. The Oklahoma Insurance Department is hosting a recovery assistance event to help address those issues. The Recovery Roundup will be held Saturday, Aug. 17, at Southmoore High School from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  

Commissioner Doak has requested that all major insurance companies send several representatives to the event to meet with policyholders and address any unresolved claims or concerns. Oklahoma Emergency Management, FEMA and officials from the cities of Moore and Oklahoma City will also be available to answer questions about debris removal, permits and other rebuilding issues.

OID experts at the Recovery Roundup can help consumers with issues relating to all types of insurance, including homeowners, auto, commercial property, life and health. OID help is also available by calling 1-800-522-0071.

Monday, 15 April 2013 13:35

Explosions at Boston Marathon


DEVELOPING: Multiple casualties are reported after at least two explosions were heard near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, according to the Boston Herald.

Witnesses reportedly heard two booms that sounded like two claps of thunder near the finish line inside the Fairmount Copley Plaza Hotel.

The explosions occurred just before 3 p.m. Video of the scene showed a number of emergency crews in the area tending to victims and blood on the ground near the finish line.

"I saw two explosions. The first one was beyond the finish line. I heard a loud bang and I saw smoke rising," Boston Herald reporter Chris Cassidy, who was running in the marathon, told the newspaper. "I kept running and I heard behind me a loud bang. It looked like it was in a trash can or something...There are people who have been hit with debris, people with bloody foreheads.”

A photographer with Fox affiliate WFXT reported seeing a number of victims with lost limbs.

Competitors and race organizers were crying as they fled the chaos. Bloody spectators were being carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners.

"There are a lot of people down," said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg. A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.

About three hours after the winners crossed the line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another thunderous explosion could be heard a few seconds later.

Runner Laura McLean of Toronto said she heard two explosions outside the medical tent.

"There are people who are really, really bloody," McLean said. "They were pulling them into the medical tent."

Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.  "I was expecting my husband any minute," she said. "I don't know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don't know what it was. I just ducked."

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