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Oklahoma superintendent: Budget cuts having “direct effect on the education of your child”

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OKTAHA, Okla. – As lawmakers continue to debate bills at the Capitol, teachers and school officials are making other tough decisions across the state.

Earlier this month, Oklahoma officials announced that the state is facing a $1.3 billion shortfall, nearly 20 percent of last year’s spending.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services announced Thursday that plunging revenue collections have widened the shortfall from the original projection of $900 million.

During her ‘State of the State’ address, Gov. Fallin said that many agencies and departments will see a 3 percent cut to try to make ends meet.

Now, school districts across the state are taking steps to reduce their budgets.

Oktaha Public Schools released its plan to cut its week to just four days.

Beginning on March 4, school will be dismissed each Friday through the end of the year, May 20.

“As news media has reported state school budgets have been reduced this school year by 3% with an additional 3% cut expected before the end of the school year. This translates to $100,000 for Oktaha School district. Worse news is the State of Oklahoma has declared a revenue failure in the amount of $1.3 billion. This means that public schools in Oklahoma will be cut for next year. The exact amount of cut for next year is unknown. Estimates range from $240,000 to $360,000 reduction in funds to Oktaha School District for next school year,” a message posted on the district’s website read.

Officials say Oktaha has already laid off 11 employees since Christmas and reduced pay for administrators by five percent.

Also, the superintendent says they have stopped all purchases of technology and security. At this point, he says only materials and supplies thatĀ are absolutely necessary are being purchased.

“All of the items above have a direct effect on the education of your child. It may be the loss of a teacher assistant in the classroom, to being able to maintain a clean school system or providing transportation,” the letter continues.

During her ‘State of the State,’ Fallin said drastic reform is needed to put the state on a different economic route.

If no action is taken, Fallin says most state agencies will face a 13.5% cut next year. As an example, she says education would be cut by $330 million.