Oklahoma Poll: School funding is important to state's voters
By RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Almost two-thirds of Oklahomans say they are very concerned about the funding of their local public schools, and more than nine in 10 say they will take that funding into consideration when casting ballots in this fall's legislative races, according to the most recent Oklahoma Poll.
"I've been back in the state for 10 1/2 years, and it seems like every year there's less and less to spend for kids," said Ken Price of Sapulpa. "I just haven't heard a good explanation of why there is that disparity."
Just how much Oklahoma spends on common education is a matter of some disagreement, but it is generally acknowledged to be at the low end nationally. State appropriations for the current budget year were unchanged from the previous year and are $200 million less than in 2009.
Since 1999, state appropriations' share of total K-12 spending has declined from 60 percent to about half.
Legislative leaders blame the recession for reduced revenue and say reforms allow schools to operate more efficiently.
The Oklahoma Poll results indicate the public is not entirely buying it. Sixty-four percent said they were "very concerned" about the funding of their local schools, and another 24 percent were "somewhat concerned." Eleven percent were "not concerned at all."
About the poll
The poll of 495 likely voters was conducted by soonerpoll.com, using a random dialing technique that included both cell phone and landline telephone numbers. Likely voters are those who have established a frequent pattern of voting.
Interviewers collected the data by phone July 26-Aug. 14. Results were weighted by age, metropolitan statistical area, political party and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both).
The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. This poll conforms to the standards of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.