Budget Shortfalls Spell Big Challenges for Oklahoma Schools

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In this Jan. 7, 2015 file photo, public school buses are parked in Springfield, Ill.
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Oklahoma’s state government is facing a budget deficit of around $900 million. One of the casualties of the state's fiscal woes: public schools. They're left facing tough choices like implementing a shorter school week, canceling classes, and consolidating districts. All this as the system is facing a shrinking teacher population and rising class sizes.

Emily Wendler is a reporter at KOSU who's been covering the challenges to Oklahoma schools. 

It's a problem Don Wentworth has seen firsthand. For 27 years, he served as a principal at schools across Oklahoma. His highest priority was to hire the best teachers he could find. But over time, it became more and more difficult to get the job done, as budget squabbles stretched school resources and shrunk the applicant pool of qualified teachers.

In 2016, Wentworth ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a platform to reform and invest in education, but lost. Ultimately, he says that it is kids in Oklahoma who pay the price.