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  1. #1

    Angry Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    $6.9Billion total state budget FY2017
    https://www.ok.gov/OSF/documents/bud17_tagged.pdf
    See page 12

    $882 million "Higher Education, Regents for"
    This is money we pay in our taxes to support higher education.
    Why cant higher education survive on the thousands of dollars they charge each student in tuition every year?

    $2.5Billion "Education, State Department of", without any further breakdown
    This is a THIRD of the entire state budget, how much goes to K-12 vs higher education?
    Why is there no breakdown of how this money is spent? Cant find anything online...
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    If you can't find anything online, it's only because you didn't look very hard. The FY17 higher education budget is on the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education website: http://okhighered.org/studies-reports/fiscal.shtml.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Education is one of the very few areas of public investment where there is a return on the investment. Some universities do survive on tuition bucks alone. Those schools, private schools, tend to run 4 times or more the cost of public universities without delivering a better education. You benefit from higher education producing higher-paid workers even if you are not formally educated yourself. You benefit from a quality K-12 system even though you may not have children. Those people buying big homes, nice cars, developing property are nearly always the products of a higher education. Those activities create jobs for everyone else.

    Higher ed is in crisis around the country. Oklahoma, not so much. Our in-state tuition is still very low. It is still possible to graduate from a place like UCO with little to no student loan debt without relying on an income other than your own. Stop and consider how much student loans take from our economy. When students used to graduate, they'd get that great job, buy a house and a nice car and start a family. Now, instead, they have to delay that for years because they are paying their loans off. Many forward thinking countries are moving towards having free higher education for all. We should be moving faster in that direction than what you are suggesting.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Our higher ed system is grossly inefficient. We have more than 30 separate two and four year institutions, each with presidents, provosts, deans and vast administrative staffs. One study showed that our non-teaching administrative staffing in higher ed is 61 percent greater than the national average. A study of teaching loads at OU and OSU revealed that about 20 percent of the faculty teaches half or more of the classes and that many professors carry student teaching loads of less than 30 per semester. There are duplicate degree programs throughout the system. For example there are nursing schools at OSU-OKC, OUHSC, UCO, Rose State, OCCC and Redlands all within a few miles of each other, every one with its separate staffs of administrative personnel. OU has a vice president of "diversity", a former legislator making $220,000 a year. One could go on and on . . . higher ed may well be the least efficient sector of state government. Giving them another pile of dollars would only encourage and subsidize that inefficiency.

    Most states have a higher ed system where like institutions fall under a central administrative structure. If Oklahoma created a statewide community college system, making all the existing two-year schools separate campuses of a single entity with centralized enrollment and administrative functions, we'd save tens of millions. Then put all of the 4 year institutions south of I-40 under OU and those north of I-40 under OSU, making them all campuses of those two flagships, with the savings to be reaped from on-line course sharing, and you'd save many tens of millions more.

    Rewarding inefficiency just yields more inefficiency.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    I don't have a problem with the number of institutions. I have some doubt as to your figures with administrative staffing. Higher ed, being one of the few areas of state government not under partisan control is under attack. Bull**** stats have never been out of the wheelhouse of the controlling party.

    Duplicate degree programs is not a problem. There is a HUGE need for nurses, such that for-profit schools have nursing programs.

    Offices of diversity and inclusion, while you may not personally agree with them, are part of universities around the country now.

    As far as placing every school under 2 regimes, that's absurd. Our regional schools and our comprehensive schools serve different purposes. Only someone without much understanding of higher ed would suggest these changes. It is important that the various parts of the system be able to advocate for themselves independently.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by WileyPostage View Post
    If you can't find anything online, it's only because you didn't look very hard. The FY17 higher education budget is on the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education website: http://okhighered.org/studies-reports/fiscal.shtml.
    That accounts for how the 882 million dedicated to higher education is spent. How much of the $2.5 billion general fund are they getting?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    I'm guessing you have no problem with 500-odd school districts with duplicate administrative levels either. The same principle applies -- economies of scale save dollars.

    Sure we should educate lots of nurses. But we can do it more efficiently and effectively if the many institutions running nursing programs were all on the same page and under a unified administrative structure,

    There's just no way to defend the scattershot organization of Oklahoma state government. We are operating (and paying for) a buggy whip governmental structure in a computer age.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by PCSchoolsMuseum View Post
    I'm guessing you have no problem with 500-odd school districts with duplicate administrative levels either. The same principle applies -- economies of scale save dollars.
    Then can you estimate how much the savings would be if Oklahoma reduced to 100 school districts and how impressive that would look to the total public school budget?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Well if an average superintendent salary is $70,000, eliminating 120 of them would save about $29 million. That would only be a start.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    I have also thought the various schools around the state could be consolidated into about 4 school bodies and make the various campuses satellites of the main school. With online schooling, this could save huge amounts of money. The same thing with the regular school districts, shrink them down to county school districts plus a few additional districts where population is large.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by PCSchoolsMuseum View Post
    Well if an average superintendent salary is $70,000, eliminating 120 of them would save about $29 million. That would only be a start.
    Check your math.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by mugofbeer View Post
    I have also thought the various schools around the state could be consolidated into about 4 school bodies and make the various campuses satellites of the main school. With online schooling, this could save huge amounts of money. The same thing with the regular school districts, shrink them down to county school districts plus a few additional districts where population is large.
    Online schooling for higher ed doesn't work for everything. In most cases, it's inferior to traditional lecture. There could probably be some rearranging, but I doubt political realities are going to make that possible. No state legislator is going to be on board with consolidating his or another University with another because they would be next. That's the price you pay (or one of the many you pay) for having a rural dominated legislature.

    Not all regional schools are created equally either. NSU and UCO, for example, are substantial enough to be completely independent and even developed into comprehensive universities. Cameron has a pretty unique mission. Still others like Southeastern, Murray State, Panhandle State, SWOSU, etc., could stand to be under a consolidated management.

    There are a lot of things to consider here, lots of fiefdoms. The process would be stupidly political, and I'm not sure you'd end up with a better system.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    There is more than just financial waste in our antiquated public school structure. Most small districts lack the enrollment and budget to offer the kind of college prep classes students have access to in larger districts. There are more than 100 dependent elementary K-8 districts that lie inside the boundaries of one or more K-12 districts where their kids go on to high school. Hence the tax base for both is diluted. Smaller districts also lack the property tax base to float adequate bonds for capital improvements. Overall almost half of Oklahoma school kids are being cheated by being stuck in small, poor, inadequately funded and staffed school districts which may be just a mile or two down the road from another similar district.

    Oklahoma County has 14 school districts. The larger ones offer full course menus and spend considerably less per pupil than most small districts. Leflore County has 17 school districts, all but two or three too small to offer much at all. Leflore County's total population is about the same as Midwest City's. So we are paying at least 14 school superintendents and administrative staffs to offer what is inevitably a less than stellar educational experience to those kids in just one county. Extrapolate statewide and you have a wasteful, inefficient and in many cases inadequate system of public education that no amount of money could fix.

    There is no justification for continuing to operate systems of common and higher ed that are so abysmally out of date and wasteful.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Then the state needs to dangle a big carrot of some kind to get school districts to consolidate. I know no law that says school districts can't consolidate. I doubt there is enough political will to pass a law to require school district consolidation. As long as very few to no schools would have to be closed, I don't see why it would be a bad deal.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunty View Post
    Then the state needs to dangle a big carrot of some kind to get school districts to consolidate. I know no law that says school districts can't consolidate. I doubt there is enough political will to pass a law to require school district consolidation. As long as very few to no schools would have to be closed, I don't see why it would be a bad deal.
    I am all for consolidating a bunch of the po-dunks... and having one Superintendent per county.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    I am all for consolidating a bunch of the po-dunks... and having one Superintendent per county.
    Name one Oklahoma Republican state legislator who wants to put forth a bill requiring school districts to do something like that. Instead, Republicans are a lot more interested about trying to pass a vouchers scheme, so public school money can go to private schools. But as with consolidation, Republicans may, too, find that to be politically difficult to do. Republican legislators in rural areas may ask what's in it for their constituents, and the answer will be not much of anything, especially, if you don't want to send your child to a Catholic school, or some other incompatible religious school, if any are available to choose from at all. So, in effect, a vouchers scheme could be seen to mean less money available for rural schools, because of the money going to metro area private schools.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    <Words>
    I normally agree with most of what you post on higher ed threads, but here I'll have to disagree. I think PCSchoolsMuseum has it about right. At the university I worked at for a few years, the administrative bureaucracy was enormous, and the majority of 'professors' were either adjuncts making minimum wage, or lower-paid instructors. These observations aren't at a university in Oklahoma, but I doubt the schools here stray too far from the national trends of bloated university administrative ranks.

    http://washingtonmonthly.com/magazin...te-my-tuition/

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/o...much.html?_r=0

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/...salary/404461/

  18. #18

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Anecdotally, I have my ear firmly to the ground when it comes to higher education in Oklahoma, particularly with the regional university system as I am an overly involved alumnus at my alma mater. Anecdotally, I can tell you at my alma mater, the Deans actually teach and the administrative bloat is non-existent in the academic part of the school. It just doesn't exist. I can't say that deans don't need administrative staff because they do. Those folks work hard.

    Over in the admin building though... that's where you have what most would characterize as bloat--the office of student life with employees who attempt to oversee every facet of every student's university experience, who have to approve any gathering of three or more members, etc. Trouble is, none of that is taxpayer funded. At least at my alma mater, the students voluntarily raised their own student activity fees and instead of that money going to actual student activities--most were sold on improved athletics--that money went to creating an overly comprehensive bureaucracy in the student life area.

    A big reason why many of those national articles are not applicable to Oklahoma comes down to one man--Hans Brisch, former Chancellor for the Board of Higher Education for the State of Oklahoma. Another big portion goes to the hard cap on tuition hikes which was in place for many years during the national education administrative bloat years. I once sat down to interview Brisch as I was a student reporter when he was retiring. After asking what his most proud achievement was, he showed me a laminated piece of paper [it appears he was prepared to answer that question] with the cost of higher ed for Oklahoma schools vs. regional and national schools. We fared very well in all of those categories.

    I'll agree since Brisch's retirement, tuition has gone up significantly, but we aren't close to nationwide trends, and as in the case of my alma mater's student activity fee increases, some of that is actually self-inflicted by students who do want an improved campus life experience who are willing to pay the cost themselves. Much of the other bloat, for example, the international office, comes from the schools spending federal tax dollars, so that's not really an Oklahoma problem.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunty View Post
    Then the state needs to dangle a big carrot of some kind to get school districts to consolidate. I know no law that says school districts can't consolidate. I doubt there is enough political will to pass a law to require school district consolidation. As long as very few to no schools would have to be closed, I don't see why it would be a bad deal.
    If you understood how rural areas were, you would understand what a silly suggestion this is. Ask someone from Luther what they would think about consolidating their district with Jones. It's a non-starter. Probably not worth discussing. Even if forced consolidation was to be offered as an initiative petition, consider the competing motives of the voters turning out. On one hand, you'd have urban voters motivated to eliminate administrative bloat in our statewide schools (this is not a strong motivator). On the other hand, rural voters would be turning out to essentially protect their way of life, protect the schools they grew up in and everything that makes them who they are today.

    Good luck with that.

    The most frustrating part of this argument is that the administrative overhead is not that huge a part of the spending puzzle, but year after year, the inability to consolidate school districts forcibly is used as an excuse to kick the can down the road. Only until we drop this as a precondition to any other action can progress be made.

    What would probably force consolidation is school choice, but that wouldn't be as grand a notion as you think as basically each and every one of these charter schools and private schools would have their own administrators and facilities, causing the money going to the classroom to be even less.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Well you are looking in the wrong place to find higher ed bloat. It is worst in the area if duplication. Here in the metro we have Rose State, OCCC, Redlands and OSU-OKC. They are all pretty similar two year schools. They each have a president. They each have a roster of vice presidents. They each have a separate enrollment office. They each have a separate security and maintenance department. They each have separate academic departments, all headed by chairs. And they each offer a substantial share of classes on line.

    Combine all four under one administrative structure, blend the various departments together, make them the four separate campuses of the Central Oklahoma Community College System, and you'd eliminate a great deal of that duplication and save a quite considerable amount of money. Now take that concept statewide and you'd be talking many millions in savings.

    What we have now in higher ed and most emphatically in the public schools are systems with a very large number of chiefs, assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs, etc., all consuming tax dollars that don't actually reach the classrooms. Compare that to, say, a retail chain. What would a loaf of bread cost if every 7-11 had its own president, vice president, comptroller, HR director, etc.?

    The private sector pursues economies of scale for a very good reason -- it lowers costs and puts more dollars out front serving the public. Government has always been able to say, well we may be as efficient as a Chinese fire drill, but that won't change, so just give us more money to continue subsidizing that inefficiency.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    To some degree, I think that's correct. But on the other hand, each of those institutions has a slightly different function, slightly different offerings, and probably benefits from having an administration to advocate for the betterment of that individual facility. There's a competition between the public community colleges, an while that creates a little extra administrative expense, it is certainly possible that having the administrations of those facilities actually in those facilities, advocating for those facilities only creates healthy competition and a better overall educational product overall.

    To another extent, I think your comparison to a 7-11 is pretty faulty considering these are multimillion dollar facilities which serve thousands upon thousands of students and employ hundreds, maybe thousands of employees, occupying huge real estate and maintaining those properties.

    Schools are not businesses. We're not looking to produce widgets, we're trying to educate students. We can't treat our schools like businesses for that reason. When schools act as businesses, they don't tend to do well (Google Corinthian College).

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    If you understood how rural areas were, you would understand what a silly suggestion this is. Ask someone from Luther what they would think about consolidating their district with Jones. It's a non-starter. Probably not worth discussing. Even if forced consolidation was to be offered as an initiative petition, consider the competing motives of the voters turning out. On one hand, you'd have urban voters motivated to eliminate administrative bloat in our statewide schools (this is not a strong motivator). On the other hand, rural voters would be turning out to essentially protect their way of life, protect the schools they grew up in and everything that makes them who they are today.

    Good luck with that.

    The most frustrating part of this argument is that the administrative overhead is not that huge a part of the spending puzzle, but year after year, the inability to consolidate school districts forcibly is used as an excuse to kick the can down the road. Only until we drop this as a precondition to any other action can progress be made.

    What would probably force consolidation is school choice, but that wouldn't be as grand a notion as you think as basically each and every one of these charter schools and private schools would have their own administrators and facilities, causing the money going to the classroom to be even less.
    Your points well taken.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    Maybe OK needs a Gov. Trump to come in and just get it done!

  24. #24

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    I agree with Midtowner about the community college vs. 7-11 comparison. Each of those colleges as he said should be their own entity with some degree of "competition" between them - whereas the many different 7-11s exist not to compete against each other, but rather to make them conveniently located for many people.

    I do agree that it would be a good idea to have a group administration for many of the small school districts (not necessarily consolidate though, especially if it would mean lengthy bus rides for some).

  25. #25

    Default Re: Higher Education and the Oklahoma State Budget

    This month's issue of the publication of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has a revealing study by Dr. Benjamin Scafidi re Oklahoma public school spending and administrative boat. The key data:

    -- From 1992 through 2015, enrollment rose by 17 percent.

    -- Teacher staffing rose by only 12 percent.

    -- Non teaching staff employment rose by 36 percent.

    -- Over those years, teachers declined from 54 percent to 49 percent of public school employees.

    -- Had non-teaching staff expansion been held to the 17 percent enrollment growth ratio, we would have had $255 million more to pay teachers, an average of $6,000 per year more.

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