- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The new head of Oklahoma’s public school system is taking a spot on a committee developing standards for math and English following last year’s repeal of Common Core guidelines.

At her first Board of Education meeting as Oklahoma’s schools superintendent, Joy Hofmeister said Thursday she wanted to hold one of the panel’s seats on the committee. Education Board member Bill Price stepped aside for her.

“I think it is only good that Joy be on that committee,” Price said. If he hadn’t stepped aside, Hofmeister’s attendance at committee meetings would have violated Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act because four members of the state Education Board would have been present - enough for a quorum.

The committee, which includes administrators, business leaders, a parent and teachers, was set up after the Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin dropped Common Core standards they’d initially adopted, to improve student performance. The state returned to its previous guidelines and, temporarily, federal education officials took away the state’s flexibility over some funding because the state couldn’t prove students were leaving school ready for college or a career.

Hofmeister asked that the standards committee be more open and post an online summary of each meeting within 48 hours.

The board also approved budget changes Hofmeister proposed for the next fiscal year. The board was seeking $2,500 pay raises for teachers, but under Hofmeister’s five-year plan to raise salaries by $5,300, next year’s increase would be only $2,000.

“My recommendation was to not go to that particular figure because of the current economic climate in our state,” she responded.

Oklahoma has about 50,000 public school teachers and other certified personnel. The state is expecting a $300 million budget shortfall - partly due to a decline in oil prices.

Price said the panel likely wouldn’t receive what it is seeking.

“The Legislature never approves what we ask for anyway,” he said. “It is a question of ‘Do we ask for the moon and you hit the top of the barn - and to what degree do you look greedy in doing that?”

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