EL RENO, Okla. (KFOR) – Former El Reno Schools superintendent said not using federal funds for education in Oklahoma could put a squeeze on rural communities.

“We’re talking about gifted and talented [programs]. We’re talking about special ed services. We’re talking about child nutrition, [some] transportation,” he said.

According to educationdata.org, Oklahoma K-12 schools spend less money on students than others; the aggregated research shows the state ranks 47th in spending and 46th in funding

According to the State Department of Education, 29% of Oklahoma’s public schools students attend a rural school, which is nearly twice the national average of 15%, as documented in 2020 statistics from the Oklahoma State Department of Education Rural School Demographics.

Millions of dollars are at stake.

In new data provided to KFOR Thursday, Department of Education officials confirmed that nearly a quarter of the state’s education budget, more than $900 million dollars, comes from federal funding for a variety of programs to support students and education.

“If you lose that, that’s a huge chunk for a rural school to pick up. They can’t do it,” continued McVay.

Consequently, a 2010 Senate Bill known as the “School District Transparency Act” requires that the Oklahoma State Department of Education provide detailed data on  Oklahoma Public School Districts’ “expenditures, cost descriptions, amounts of funds spent, types of transactions, and current per pupil expenditure figure”.

And as McVay spoke with KFOR, it’s not just a necessary resource for rural schools; he said the financial support helps anchor education in all communities.

“We can’t candidly just throw out things that hurt kids, especially in those areas that that need the federal dollars to help guide education for those who need it the most.” he said.

especially in those areas that that need the federal dollars to help guide education for those who need it the most.

“The urban areas, the rural areas, they need all the help they can get [and]almost every school district that that I know of in rural Oklahoma depends on their federal money,” he added.

“There’s 700,000 plus kids in the state,” he continued.

“I’m a taxpayer in Oklahoma. I want my tax money to be used here.”