Editorial: Schools face more cuts as $64 million in state aid is withheld
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, July 21, 2012
7/21/12 at 3:04 AM
School administrators across the state were surprised last week to learn that they would be receiving even less money than anticipated from the state Department of Education to start the new academic year.
For the larger districts in the Tulsa area, the additional cuts are significant. For example, this latest hit to the Union Public Schools, $692,000, represents 15 or 16 teaching positions.
Tulsa Public Schools, whose budget has been slashed by tens of millions of dollars in the past few years, will receive $1.75 million less, and Jenks Public Schools' allocation will be $522,827 light.
The Legislature created this problem when it approved a state budget that included "flat" funding for education. "Flat," however, doesn't mean "flat." With increased enrollments, inflating fuel and health insurance costs and various unfunded state mandates to the local districts, "flat" actually means less.
The problem, while created by lawmakers, is compounded by the Department of Education, headed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. The department is withholding $64 million in state aid to accommodate possible enrollment growth next fall. That is $23 million more than last year.
A Barresi spokesman said the department is required by law to reserve money to reimburse local districts for mid-term enrollment increases, under the state's school aid formula. Anything left over after the adjustments are funded will be distributed to schools. He said the estimates are being made now just as they always have been.
But the $64 million withheld this year is more than twice the minimum set by law. Nearly $27 million of it is for virtual schools and new charter schools.
This appears to short regular schools to accommodate virtual and charter schools? Why is that?
Original Print Headline: Hits keep coming
Schools are facing an additional shortfall in funding. Tulsa World file