It’s news to no one that our public schools face enormous challenges in virtually every area of operations, including finances. Oklahoma education funding is one of the lowest in the nation and yet mandates remain, leaving schools without the proper resources to support them. Smaller schools and districts feel this more intensely as they don’t often have the funding to support full-time staff in these key areas or are severely understaffed and cannot properly provide the kind of attention these areas need. Because of this, we often see school staff juggling multiple roles to the point where it affects instruction, burnout becomes widespread, and ultimately, students suffer.
This is where the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC) comes in. OPSRC was created as a non-profit center with the goal of supporting small schools—both rural and public charters—across the state in several key areas: finance, legal, technology, communications, teaching & learning, and educational policy.
What does this mean for schools?
OPSRC wants to see administrators focused on their primary role: supporting teachers and providing them a collaborative, encouraging environment where they are successful and students are engaged and excited about learning. The center has highly-skilled staff dedicated to each of these key areas who not only consult with schools on issues they may be facing but also train them so as to increase their knowledge and skills and ensure administrators feel confident to make informed decisions regarding the operations of their schools. Let’s break it down to better understand the full range of OPSRC’s services:
Finance: The Finance staff provides financial consultation and training in school improvement planning, federal and state spending, school financial policy development, employee overtime and salary schedules, purchasing, inventory management, fiscal distress trends and issues, school audits, and issues regarding teacher retirement.
Legal: The Legal staff is available to member schools as an OPSRC in-house general counsel and will provide services including but not limited to the following: legal document creation and review, including those pertaining to personnel, students, grant applications, standards monitoring, and state/federal program compliance, and other professional services; consultations by phone, e-mail, or in-person at the school site or the OPSRC office(s); innovative and updated sharing of legal news and case briefs affecting member schools.
Technology: The Technology staff consults with schools on a variety of technical issues, including hardware and software troubleshooting, technology plans, purchasing advice, e-Rate support, and best practices for technology use in the classroom. They also provide training to ensure technology is used as efficiently and effectively as possible.