The school funding crisis is far from over in Oklahoma, said Bartlesville Public Schools Superintendent Chuck McCauley.


During a State of the Schools luncheon hosted by the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation on Wednesday, McCauley gave an overview of priorities for the 2018-19 academic year.


He said the district will continue to lead the effort needed over the next several years to secure additional operating funding to improve public schools with smaller classes, better materials and meaningful reforms.


For now, though, the state continues to lack funding to reduce class sizes, the district must continue to rely on local bond funds to offset basic operating expenses, and Oklahoma is lagging in the region in overall per pupil spending.


“The biggest struggle we have in education is the teacher shortage. There are fewer folks going into the teaching field. In 2011, in the entire state of Oklahoma, there were 32 emergency certified teachers. This past year there were 1,917,” said McCauley.


Meanwhile, the Bartlesville district had 12 emergency-certified teachers last year. It has 19 today.


“I anticipate that number is going to go over 2,000 (statewide), which is not good and not a positive trend,” said McCauley.


Class electives in Oklahoma schools are disappearing, McCauley said.


“About one-third of the high schools don’t offer a foreign language. That’s embarrassing for our state. Kids still need to have those opportunities,” he said.


Bartlesville’s students have more foreign language options — Spanish, German, and French — than most surrounding schools, especially in rural districts.


The teacher and staff raises and the $50 million returned to education earlier this year were the first steps of many, according to McCauley.


He pointed to the upcoming elections and mentioned a new Bartlesville plan that is being developed to ask for more education funding. Bartlesville led the way in seeking historic increases in teacher salaries as well as raises for school support staff, state workers and more.


“If we don’t do anything in 10 or 15 years, we’ll be right back where we are now, so we have to continue to keep that in the forefront,” he said.


The quality of life in a community is directly tied to its education system, McCauley said. While summarizing the past year’s challenges and accomplishments, McCauley also highlighted the progress made with the STEM initiative in Bartlesville schools.


The district uses a nationally recognized STEM curriculum called Project Lead the Way. Last year the program saw the introduction of computer science modules into all elementary classrooms, kindergarten through fifth grade. The district provides opportunities in STEM to all K-12 students. The district’s two middle schools, Central and Madison, were the only public schools in Oklahoma to be named “Distinguished Schools” in Project Lead the Way’s program.