EPIC Charter School is now the 14th largest school system in Oklahoma, according to official enrollment data collected by the Oklahoma Department of Education. The data shows marked growth for EPIC, which ranked 20th in enrollment for the previous school year.
EPIC Assistant Superintendent Bart Banfield and Teacher Kristi Rich recently stopped by KOCO Channel 5 to discuss the school’s growth and teacher pay.
Annually, the SDE collects official enrollment data from each Oklahoma school district on or around Oct. 1. It adjusts and bases each school district’s state funding on that data. It also collects various other data each fall in such areas as school personnel and class size.
EPIC Superintendent David Chaney said the charter school was notified its 2016-17 State Aid has been adjusted to $4,410 per student based on its student enrollment of 9,079 students. He said since EPIC was founded in 2011, its funding has always been adjusted upward in January during the “midterm funding adjustment” because, by law, the SDE has to provide the charter school’s initial funding based on an Aug. 1 student count, However, on Aug. 1, enrollment is ongoing and is more than a month before EPIC’s school year begins. The school experiences significant growth between Aug. 1 and the end of the first nine weeks.
“Historically the size of our mid-term adjustment has given the appearance that our funding is being increased, and some have even suggested at the expense of other districts. That is not true. In reality, the SDE is simply playing catch-up, providing funding to educate students who have been enrolled and are being served, but for whom we weren’t receiving any funding. Moreover, EPIC’s per pupil funding is nearly the lowest in the state – and in a state that ranks almost dead last in the nation in per pupil funding,” said Chaney.
Yet Chaney said EPIC optimizes its state funding, dedicating more to the instruction of students than the state average. Moreover, official data reported by EPIC to the state for this school year suggests it pays teachers significantly above the statewide average. The charter school bases each teacher’s pay on the academic performance of his or her student roster and student retention. EPIC’s average teacher salary is $51,131, compared to the state average of $44,812.
“Educators have learned that EPIC teachers are compensated well, and we are receiving about 20 applications for every teaching position,” Chaney said. “Performance pay may not be for every school district, but the model has worked well for our growing charter school, especially amid a teacher shortage crisis.”
EPIC is a charter school with a blended learning model that pairs online learning with face-to-face and regular one-on-one instruction. Other data regarding the school based on information provided to the SDE for the 2016-2017 year includes:
- Average teacher-student ratio: 31:1
- Average principal-teacher ratio: 25:1
- Average staff-student ratio: 26:1
- % of students economically disadvantaged: 69 percent
- % of students provided special education:13 percent
- % of budget spent on instruction: 74 percent
- % of new students entering EPIC below grade level/math: 64 percent
- % of new students entering EPIC below grade level/reading: 60 percent
- Number of elementary/middle/high school students: 3,129/1,871/4,079
- Number of Oklahoma counties with EPIC students: 77
- Top 10 counties with EPIC enrollment (in order): Oklahoma, Tulsa, Cleveland, Creek, Canadian, Rogers, Pottawatomie, Kay, Payne and Carter