MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – As state leaders continue to cut state agencies’ funding, school districts across Oklahoma are trying to make ends meet.
The state budget crisis deepened last week when officials announced another 4 percent cut to agencies across the board.
Public schools alone will have nearly $110 million cut from their budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30.
On Monday, state leaders proposed using some money from the Rainy Day Fund to stop some of the massive cuts to education, but school officials say it likely won’t stop it entirely.
Dr. Rick Cobb, from the Mid-Del Public School District, released his plan on Tuesday to deal with the budget cuts.
So far, Cobb says the district has lost close to $3.5 million from state funding.
“We expect more cuts from the state this school year, and next year’s outlook is even bleaker,” Cobb wrote. “Because of these losses, we are shutting down all possible spending at this time. We have to finish this school year with enough money to pay all of our expenses. Keep in mind, though, that nine out of every ten dollars we spend goes to paying people to do their jobs.”
Currently, he says a hiring freeze is in place and spending has been either eliminated or reduced for programs like the following:
- Elementary Music Festival
- Elementary Track
- STEM Gifted Summer Camp
Also, the budget cuts are forcing the district to delay building repairs and improvements that were not funded through bonds.
The district also plans to reduce or eliminate bus routes, eliminate Elementary ACE and eliminate elementary and sixth-grade athletics.
Cobb says they will also likely eliminate electives with low enrollment and reduce school supplies.
“Last night at our monthly board meeting, we recognized dozens of students (and their parents, coaches, and sponsors) for achievement in athletics and the fine arts. With their accomplishments on display, and with the budget situation in mind, I had to ask aloud whether we would still have all of these programs in two or three years if our state leaders cannot change the direction we are heading.”
“There is nothing under consideration for budget cuts that I would consider wasteful spending. Programs such as athletics and the arts feed your soul. What may not be as obvious is the fact that we are already short on staffing in maintenance, or that we may lose many other people who serve key roles in the district. We still haven’t restored all of the positions and programs cut in the last state budget crisis six years ago. Every time this happens- every time the state makes us work with less and less funding- it gets harder and harder to make cuts in the district without impacting children. These cuts will be felt by all. Classes will be bigger and we will not have as many of the things that really make a child’s eyes sparkle.”
Cobb finished by saying he was worried about having enough money to make payroll and pay all of the district’s bills.
Mid-Del isn’t the only district warning parents about what is to come.
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.