The Oklahoma State Department of Education released its mid-year adjustment numbers this week. The dreaded number is what the Luther Public Schools has awaited to shine a light on how much less money the district will have to operate with for the rest of the year.
The numbers bring a little bit of good news amid the bad news.
The good news: while Superintendent Sheldon Buxton anticipated taking a hit of somewhere in the ballpark of $80,000 – it appears Luther “only” will lose $33,760 or nearly 6-percent.
The bad news: it’s still a hit, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education warned this week that more cuts are coming. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services announced a further 3-percent cut for the remainder of the fiscal year. According to a news release from OSDE, that amounts to a $46.7 million further reduction in funding for preK-12 public education between January and June of 2016.
As of now, the mid-year adjustment for LPS is $530,484, down 5.98% from the $564,244 promised earlier from the state.
“Now that we know the extent of the cut for the remainder of the fiscal year, school districts will soon be able to plan accordingly. The reduced funding was inevitable in the wake of the revenue failure, but I know that the Oklahoma State Department of Education and district leaders statewide are committed to lessening the impact on students as much as possible,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
She said the revised figures will be shared within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Dr. Buxton told The Luther Register last Friday that he hoped the mid-year would be smaller but is bracing for tough times in the way of layoffs and crowded classrooms.
“The overall financial health of the district is that we can operate and pay our bills this year, but the deficits that we have already absorbed plus projecting for next year will require a reduction of staff recommendation to my board,” said Dr. Buxton.
“What I do know is that we will have fewer programs for our students and higher classroom numbers for our teachers as a result of what we have already experienced. Not a pretty picture, but a reality for Luther Schools at this point,” he said.
In Oklahoma County, only the Western Heights school district fared worse than Luther with a nearly $800,000 loss (or 12%). Statewide, Charter schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are grabbing most of the state-aid dollars for public education.