Superintendent: Lawmakers don't have a clue how to fund education
When Channel 8 first visited Westville Public Schools in Oklahoma six months ago, we thought things were bad.
They’ve gotten worse.
“We’re losing teachers not just to Arkansas, we’re losing them to Oklahoma. I’ve had several resign, I’ve got several coaching positions open,” said Terry Heustis, superintendent of Westville Public Schools.
Heustis said lawmakers in Oklahoma City trying to figure out how to fund education don’t have a clue. The cuts aren’t just bleeding his teachers dry and robbing them of any optimism, but now they’re tasked with a new job no one signed up for. Heustis said both he and teachers will sometimes work together to help clean the school.
“We are failing, failing miserably. If I had failed as bad in my job, I would not be here still, eight years as superintendent,” said Heustis.
Classrooms aren’t cleaned every day because things have gotten so tight. For a while, Heustis was driving a bus route. He’s also avoided filling much-needed teaching positions. All of the cuts affect teachers like Jim Wade.
“Why no one is doing anything about it is beyond me. I’m not a politician. I just stay in that little cubicle and teach math,” said Wade.
Wade is an Algebra II and Trigonometry teacher at the high school. His class sizes are relatively small, but that could change if there are more cuts.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t have 30 kids in a classroom,” said Heustis.
Science classrooms are already crowded. Heustis said he’s had a hard time finding a science teacher.
“It’s tough, the school business is really tough right now,” said Heustis.
He said the school has reached a point where it can’t handle any more cuts. Right now, he doesn’t know if some of his newer teachers will even have a job next school year.
“What we’re doing is insane. We’re doing the same thing over and over again, it’s the definition of insanity,” said Heustis.
Unlike the Algebra II equations he can solve, Wade said he doesn’t know the answer to the problem.
“I’ve heard it said we can’t fix education by just throwing money at it, but we’ve tried that,” said Wade.
Wade was recently named Teacher of the Year in Westville. He said Westville and his small classroom are home no matter what.