Candidate for City Council Breea Clark has announced that if elected she will donate her salary as a city council official to Norman Public Schools. City Council ward representatives are currently paid $50 per month and $10 for each regular or special meeting attended, but not to exceed a total of $100 a month. “Having already given countless hours of my time through volunteer and committee work to Reagan Elementary, Parent-Teacher associations all around Norman, Oklahoma PTA, Norman Public Schools, and the City of Norman, it is an honor to have the opportunity to give back to public education, especially at a time when it is sorely needed.” If elected, Clark would serve a two-year term for Ward 6 beginning in July.
After communicating with Clark about her intended donation, Cari Manzer, President of the Professional Educators of Norman (PEN), has stated that PEN will publicly endorse Clark in this election “To know Breea Clark is to be connected with someone who truly values public education. Through her work with university students on integrity issues at the University of Oklahoma to her energy on all things PTA, it is obvious that Breea is deeply committed to the success of every student. Without a question, Breea will listen to the concerns of the constituency in Ward 6 and will work toward a brighter future for Norman’s residents of all ages,” Manzer stated.
Clark has advocated for the proper funding of public education through her involvement with Oklahoma PTA and is familiar with the effect these funding cuts are having on Norman teachers and students. After meeting with Renee Endicott-Jerden, music teacher at Irving Middle school, Clark was shocked at what funding cuts have done to extracurricular programs like choir. “Several years ago, we embarked on a new adventure by deciding to do our first big musical, and we have done one every other year, partially to recoup energy and partially to recoup funds. We purchase the rights and materials for our musical from allocated funds. With the cuts, we might not get another musical. Many might argue that we don't need these things to be successful and enjoy music, and that may be true. What we DO need, though, is music. Music costs money. The arts matter,” Endicott-Jerden shared.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education recently announced that funding shortfalls resulted in a required mid-year 3-percent reduction for preK-12 public education funding that would begin immediately and end June 30. This $46.7 million mid-year funding cut has left many parents, educators, and citizens doubtful about any funding solutions being found for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. In response, a #giveitbackok movement has developed on social media encouraging taxpayers to return their tax cut to schools, teachers, PTAs, and other education-related entities that will most feel the weight of these mid-year cuts.
Adam Lifsics, Norman High School Biology and AP Environmental Science Teacher and Gardening Director of Norman High’s Aquaponic garden, worries these cuts will affect his programs as well. “I believe that cuts to education, specifically in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), are potentially devastating to the success of Oklahoman students in obtaining careers in a competitive market across the country. Without this money programs such as Norman High School's aquaponic system (growing of fish and plants together) won't be fostered and students will be robbed of the opportunity to explore exciting new fields. By Breea Clark willing to donate her salary as a city council member back to education, it clearly shows her commitment to help us in our fight to give students the best education we can by obtaining the necessary resources to foster imagination and creativity in the learning process,” Lifsics said.
“In the wake of such a massive mid-year funding cut to Oklahoma’s public education students, citizens need to take a stand. I wish my donation could be more, but it’s a start. I encourage other city council candidates to make the same pledge,” Clark stated. “Our children don’t deserve this lack of support for their education, yet they will be the ones who feel it directly. I’m ready to do my part.”
For more information about Breea Clark’s campaign or to support Breea Clark, visit www.clarkfornorman.com