Oklahoma Schools Worry About Increased Budget Cut

Wednesday, December 16th 2009, 7:58 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Because of the way they're funded, school districts may get hit hardest by the state's latest round of budget cuts.

Like other school systems, Norman has been living with budget reductions of five to seven percent a month this fiscal year. In Norman, so far, that computes to about $880,000 less to work with. The prospect of a ten percent cut on top of that not only worries faculty but also students.

"We already have problems getting new books and computers and everything else that we need. I think it will be more difficult," said Amanda Herr, Norman High School student.

Superintendent Joe Siano said he knows another ten percent cut will cost his district $4 million and will require major cuts.

"The question always is what's the district going to do about this? I asked the same question. What's the legislature going to do to mitigate the problem?" Siano said.

Governor Brad Henry and legislative leaders have agreed to replenish the education reform revolving fund, which currently has a $41 million shortfall. They may also tap the Rainy Day Fund, as well as stimulus dollars, to help common schools, but none of that will likely happen before the Legislature convenes in February. In the meantime, teachers in Norman and elsewhere worry about their jobs.

"A few of them do sound worried, but I mean I think they're totally past it. They still teach us and make the best of it," said Molly Madden, Norman High School student.

Norman officials said they believes a $110 million bond issue approved last week will lower operating costs in the future.

Siano said, so far, the district hasn't had to reduce any of its educational services to students.