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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Epic Charter Schools says a reduction in force (RIF) is being implemented to match the size of its operations to the decrease in enrollment following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Epic says it started the 2019-2020 school year with just under 28,000 students.

Enrollment ballooned to 61,000 students during the 2020-2021 school year as more families opted for virtual schooling at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

Additional staff was hired by Epic’s former management company to meet the needs of increased enrollment. 

However, current Epic enrollment is just over 38,000 students.

That decline in enrollment will likely lead to a $60-million drop in state funding, with a mid-term adjustment beginning in January 2022.

“Two out of five kids who joined us during the pandemic have decided to stay with us, and we’re grateful to have them as part of the EPIC family. Unfortunately, three out of five have decided to return to their home districts,” said Epic Superintendent Bart Banfield. “While we certainly wish them success, we now have some painful decisions to make in terms of staffing. We simply do not need and cannot afford to be staffed for 61,000 kids, when our enrollment has begun to even out post-pandemic.”

The cuts began Friday, November 12, and will continue this month.

Banfield did not provide a total number of jobs that will be impacted, but stated he believes operations will normalize by the end of the current school year.

“We are being proactive in our planning. We want to be transparent, while also protecting the long-term health of our school,” Banfield said. “Our goal is to provide the least amount of disruption to our students. Secondary to that, we’re doing all we can to protect as many employees as we can.”

Epic currently employs 1,988 people.

“We are right-sizing our operations so we can continue to serve students and families,” Banfield said. “While these are difficult decisions, our responsibility is to serve kids first. This is a painful process, but in the long-term, we’re building stability and viability into our organization.”