Education Held Flat In State Budget Proposal

Wednesday, May 25th 2016, 5:34 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The state is one step closer to having a budget for next year. The Senate passed the proposed budget Wednesday, and lawmakers said it would protect common education from more cuts.

Last week, students walked out of class in protest of what deep budget cuts could mean: a loss of beloved teachers, bigger classes, and the elimination of arts and athletics programs.

5/16/16 Related Story: OKC Students Walk Out Of Class To Protest Against Budget Cuts

Tuesday, lawmakers released a budget they said should prevent all that. Wednesday, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said it was the best they could hope for.

“It’s good news, it’s certainly good news in the context we find ourselves in,” said Hofmeister. “Does it mean that every problem is solved? Absolutely not. We are still in a crisis in education.”

Hofmeister said there will still be millions of dollars in cuts in line-items that schools will have to absorb.

5/24/16 Related Story: Oklahoma Governor, Lawmakers Reach Budget Agreement

The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators said they originally told districts to anticipate a $200 dollar per student cut but now it will be closer to $100 dollars per student from the beginning of last year to the beginning of this year.

Oklahoma City Schools was counting on a five percent cut to education from the legislature which would equal $12 million. Now officials say they are encouraged but will wait to see the finalized details before considering budget changes.

Other districts are doing the same but are being urged to be conservative in case revenue doesn’t meet projections again next year.

“School districts are not going to make a mistake by making an assumption that is a guarantee funds will flow,” said Hofmeister.

The House has to vote on the budget by Friday.