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“We have very few options left,” Education officials revise budget to prepare for $50 million in cuts

School classroom

OKLAHOMA CITY – Education officials in Oklahoma are preparing for drastic cuts after the state announced another revenue failure.

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Board of Equalization confirmed a revenue failure in the state following an $878 million shortfall.

The shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, means the legislature will have 13 percent less for state agencies than last year.

Following the news, the State Board of Education is making preparations based on that revenue failure.

The board revised the common education budget to reflect $50.2 million in cuts.

Officials say the adjustments were necessary, especially since the Oklahoma Board of Equalization also confirmed a $39.1 million shortfall to the Education Reform Revolving Fund.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the loss of expected state revenue to meet the already lean common education budget will have an unavoidable impact on students throughout Oklahoma.

“These budget cuts will further hobble our state’s ability to meet the needs of children and educate our students. It’s onerous news for schools as they have now absorbed $84.5 million in unexpected cuts to common education in the last two fiscal years despite great effort to cushion the blow for students during the recent economic downturn,” Hofmeister said. “We have very few options left. In addition, the collective impact of cuts to core services year after year affects all communities, all schools, every classroom and our most vulnerable children as services and resources dwindle. Core services have not only been cut to the bone but are now asking service providers and our schools to leach calcium from the bones. It’s unsustainable.
“That said, we are encouraged by promising indications that the energy sector may be slowly rebounding. In addition, we are thankful to be working with the Governor’s office and our colleagues in the state legislature, including a number of men and women in new leadership positions, and are hopeful we can work together to solve these funding issues in ways that positively impact the classroom. Our kids can’t wait.”