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Strapped for cash: Crooked Oak school district struggles to make payments

OKLAHOMA CITY –  Crooked Oak school district is struggling to come up with cash to make payments.

“It is an embarrassment,” said Theresa Rice, a parent.

For Superintendent Bradley Richards, it’s become a very serious situation.

“Unless it was explicitly written in a contract before and approved by the board, we can’t pay our bills. We don’t have the legal authority to pay people we owe money to.,” said Richards.

And with new construction on the high school underway, if it’s halted, the students education could take a hit.

Tammy Slober has a child in high school and says “It could be detrimental to her education.”

The Crooked Oak school board currently only has four members.

Richards says, three of those four have to attend the meetings to hold a vote, but they can’t get all the members together. Richards adds that it could affect the entire district.

“If we can’t get it done next week, I’m not sure we can get it done by the time all of our payments are due,” said Richards.

Parents and teachers say two board members, Guadalupe Rodriguez, and Chris Lindsey, have missed five meetings in the past couple of months.

Both Rodriguez and Lindsey say the future of the school depends on their decision-making and without it the school can’t function.

“I’m very concerned because I’ve never seen Crooked Oak in this situation where we cannot financially sell bonds, get things passed,  or pay our monthly bills. We’re concerned about employees salaries,” says Dorraine Matheson, an educator for several years.

All concerns the superintendent echoes.

“It’s critical that we get this building done on time. Of course we have to have money to expect our contractors to keep working. The building is critical. Not just because of the safe rooms but it’s also critical for the education of our kids.”

He says he’s waiting for the two men to get back in town so they can vote. Until then, education, payment and the livelihood of teachers all hang in limbo.