Due to Oklahoma’s revenue failure, the state Board of Education was mandated to cut expenses to K-12 education by $47 million. At a special board meeting held Thursday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said these cuts could seriously impact some school districts.
“We do anticipate that some school districts will have a very hard time remaining open,” she said.
Hofmeister said most districts will take a hit, but the ones that heavily rely on state aid will hurt the most. The reduction impacts the remaining six months of this school year.
She says the department did what they could to prevent schools from taking a big financial hit, by shifting money away from certain programs and reallocating it to the schools. Almost every line item in the budget took at least a 3 percent cut. That includes things like alternative education, Teach for America, and the early childhood initiative.
Other line items, like school staff development and science, technology, education, and math education, or STEM, took well above a 3 percent cut in order to redistribute those funds back to the schools.
In total, schools will take a $25 million funding cut. Flexible Benefits Allowance funding was reduced by $12.4 million.
Hofmeister said she isn’t sure yet what kinds of effect this will have on students and teachers, but says it would be hard to imagine they won’t be impacted.
Another major source of funding for education in Oklahoma is the 1017 Fund, which comes from House Bill 1017 passed 25 years ago. Hofmeister said she is also expecting this fund to dry up, due to the revenue failure, which will mean more cuts for schools this spring.