The State of Oklahoma, once again, is borrowing money and schools, including Guthrie Public Schools, will not be fully-funded this month in state aid. This time costing the school district $73,190 for the month of April.
The State Department of Education notified school districts Wednesday their monthly support checks would be cut as a result, amounting to another budget reduction after repeated cuts during the current school year.
In March, the school district was cut by $79,289 in state aid, which totals $152,479 for the last two months.
Other school districts in Logan County are also seeing cuts, including Crescent ($31,595), Mulhall-Orlando ($3,499) and Coyle ($13,451).
“A year ago we developed a target for the cuts based on the information we were given from the State Department of Education as well as the legislature,” Guthrie Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said. “Unfortunately, that has not been the case with the additional cuts we have received this year as they continue on a monthly basis.”
Oklahoma Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston L. Doerflinger earlier this week said the State will need to borrow $31 million from other funds.
This comes after Preston borrowed $240 million out of the state’s rainy day fund to pay the State’s bills. All this, follows the state needing to find $878 million to balance the budget.
“The fact we have had to borrow from these funds shows just how serious the state’s revenue problem is,” Doerflinger said.
Simpson went on to say, “Education has been cut more than other state agencies this year because of the undercollection of revenue in the 1017 fund and the school technology fund. Superintendents from around the state are beyond frustrated with trying to prepare for the next financial calamity. This isn’t about efficiencies and shrinking government, it is about acknowledging we have a revenue shortage and cannot fund core services.”
On Thursday, Democratic Leader Scott Inman in a press conference said his caucus is still waiting on a plan from Republicans.
“We have been here for 10 weeks and have yet see any significant revenue raising measures put on the floor,” Inman said. “This week we find out public schools in Oklahoma have seen their fifth revenue failure in just the last year.”
Inman fears the State will announce another revenue failure in the coming weeks.
“They (Office of Management and Enterprises Services) can’t balance appropriately and do the basic math to meet the current needs. They’re robbing money that they have to replace. They are kicking the can down the road.”
Inman went on to say, “This is a horrible case of fiscal mismanagement by the Republican majority. There is no way around it. They have bankrupted this state.”
As the State looks for answers for the current needs, a teacher pay raise, which is a primary legislative goal for this session, becomes more of a distant thought.
One teacher echoed what several teachers throughout the state have been saying since the legislators gathered in February.
“I honestly wouldn’t believe them if they told us we were getting a raise!!! Maybe someday.”