Assuming the State of Oklahoma does have any additional budget failures, the Guthrie school district is expected to see a reduction of $1.5 million in funding for the next school year. Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson addressed the state funding crisis and its impact on the school district at Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting.
Simpson, who labeled his presentation as “The Perfect Storm”, says the school district has lost $1.2 million in funding this school year alone. In addition, an estimated $300,000 will be lost due the lowering of the assessment ratio from the Logan County Assessor.
Article continues following the presentation video.
In 2016, state aid was reduced by $849,804 from 2015 due to the collapse of the energy market. Further deductions, include $636,313 from state revenue failures and mid-term adjustment loss.
The superintendent reports 92 percent of the district’s expenditures in 2015 went to salaries, utilities, insurance and fuel.
Simpson, along with input from building principals and department directors, outlined solutions to achieve a budget, with the expected $1.5 million in cuts for next school year that will ensure financial sustainability.
For support staff, one para-professional and three custodial positions were absorbed with resignations, two part-time custodial positions were eliminated on April 1, two full-time probationary custodial positions were eliminated on April 1 and one para-professional position will be eliminated. The total savings is reported to save the district $164,000 (5.5 percent).
The teaching staff currently has 14 resignations or retirement positions that will not be replaced and 9.5 temporary contract teachers will not be renewed for a total savings of $938,000 (9.6 percent).
Over the last two years, staff reductions has added up to $575,481 in savings.
The administrative staff will see two eliminations through attrition and reassignment for a savings of $115,000 (8.5 percent). Simpson added total administrative salaries have been reduced over $20,000 since 2013.
To help save $300,000, Simpson says they will recode eligible teaching positions to federal funds, use Career Tech funds to pay Gateway instructors salary at the Junior High and recode gifted and talented funds.
Other items that will be under consideration, include program budgets including athletic budgets, extra-duty stipends for sponsors and coaches positions and school calendar modifications.
“There are some items we are not willing to look at to save more money,” board member Terry Pennington said. “I saw us cutting teachers and support staff, but I didn’t see anybody leaving from this (administrative) building.”
“When I say everything is on the table, I put it all out there. I want to know is it all out there?”
Class sizes increasing for all grades
With fewer teachers, Simpson shared the goals of the average class sizes at each building for next year.
The biggest increase shown was at Cotteral Elementary, which is pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, from 18 to 23 students per classroom. Central Elementary (first grade) goes from 23 to 25, Fogarty (second and third grade) from 26 to 28, Guthrie Upper Elementary School (fourth through sixth) from 26 to 29, Junior High (seventh and eighth grade) 27 to 30 in core classes and at the High School 22 to 30 in core classes.
“It will be more of a challenge, without a doubt. I do believe they are manageable. We will provide as much support as possible,” Simpson said.
Four day school week?
“I am not suggesting a four-day school week. Make no mistake about that. I am not a proponent of that,” Simpson said.
“We have examined that and we want to try avoid that, if possible,” Simpson responded to Pennington, who asked about the idea of possibly going to a four-day school week.
Among other items, Simpson said the transportation staff would go below full-time status with one less school day and would lose reimbursement from the state with health insurance.
“I just don’t want to lose teachers,” Pennington said.