State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi drew sharp criticism this week — on Facebook — when it was revealed that she denied a request that would have helped cash-strapped Moore Public Schools as it continues to recover from the deadly tornadoes and storms that struck in May.
During an informal phone conversation following the storms, Barresi said she was asked by a Moore school official if the district could have its state aid spread out over 12 months instead of the usual 11 months.
The move would have freed up roughly $5 million for the district, which is struggling with cash-flow issues in the wake of May's violent weather.
The state Education Department denied the request, prompting a Moore district high school teacher to post a scathing rant against Barresi on a Facebook page with ties to schoolteachers.
Thousands of people responded to the post, sending it to their friends and posting hundreds of comments of their own.
Barresi said the informal request made by Robert Romines, who will become superintendent of Moore Public Schools on July 1, wasn't granted because Oklahoma law calls for “an 11-month payout schedule” for state aid.
The superintendent also said there was no money available to give Moore Public Schools — or any other district.
“It's not that I didn't want to do it,” Barresi said. “We're prohibited by statute from doing that ... and there were no funds in the coffers to do that.”
Barresi said the Education Department did offer Moore school officials the chance to participate in a program that allows distressed school districts to borrow money at a low interest rate.
Romines said Moore school officials decided not to participate in the so-called “cash management” program.
“There's interest attached to it,” he said. “And I ... don't care how low the interest rate is. This school district is not about borrowing money and going about things that way.
“That did not make sense to us, and we declined the offer.”
Here's the Facebook page in question: Teachers Need to Take Over the OK Legislature. Good on them for standing up to this incompetence.
Barresi's lame excuse making is typical of the sort practiced by the Bush brothers in their own political careers: instead of stepping up and working to do what needs to be done, they weakly mewled that they'd really like to help, by golly, but there's just nothing we can do...
Real leaders get stuff done. Moore got flattened by a horrible natural disaster; the children there need a State Superintendent who's going to go to the mat to make sure they have a normal school opening in August. They certainly don't need a schools leader who acts like a Bush in the face of a natural disaster.
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