Condensed Blanchard School Funding

According to Education News, a national public school publication, Oklahoma Legislators have reduced public school student funding more than any state in the nation – almost 27% since 2008. For Blanchard Public Schools, this means the legislature has reduced our state allocation by more than $1.6 million in inflation adjusted dollars for our kids. This school year is not over yet, but the legislature has already reduced our state aid by $146,000 thru March (3 cuts). If this trend continues through June 30, our Oklahoma Legislature will have reduced Blanchard student funding by another $300,000. This escalation in funding cuts will result in Oklahoma reducing state funding by 31% since 2008 ($1.9 million for Blanchard).
We now know that the state budget deficit (created by the legislature) is almost $900 million, as it (the Oklahoma Legislature) prepares to write next years budget. Since our public schools receive about 35% of the state budget of more than $7 billion, and the budget hole to be $900 million, our state aid allocation could be $315 million less than this year. For Blanchard Public Schools, we could receive another $300,000 in reductions – next year!
At this point in time, we have no choice – we must look at ways to cut $300,000 from next year’s school budget. We must reduce expenditures in our 2018 budget document, which we are already working on. The April 1st deadline (by law) – for the legislature to let us know what revenue we have to work with – has come and gone, so as usual, we are working blindly. Since 2003, our State Legislature has broken the law every year, by not funding our public schools by April 1st.
Our Oklahoma Legislature has no knowledge of the school budgeting process (or any budgeting process for that matter). However, our State Legislature is expert on political processes, so it has spun this state budget fiasco in another direction away from themselves. In many cases, they have successfully blamed the school funding crisis on the public schools themselves. It’s what politicians do: they blame all catastrophes on everyone but themselves. They have successfully blamed the school funding crisis on local school boards and superintendents, in many cases. They have successfully divided and conquered our public schools in many cases.
As an example of only one way that the Blanchard Board of Education has tried to meet state funding cuts can be seen on the Oklahoma State Department of Educations website under the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System tab. For the 2014-2015 school year, the Blanchard Board of Education spent $404,231 (2.2% of all expenditures) for general administrative services (Bold Code 2300 ). General administrative services include treasurer services, election services, legal services, auditing services, administrative salaries for all directors and central office staff, and all office supplies such as computers, paper, copy machines, etc.. For the 2015-2016 school year, administrative services had been cut to $368,946 (2.05% of all expenditures), an 8.7% reduction.
In comparing the same two years for “instructional expenditures”, which is primarily teacher salaries, $7,214,798 was spent during the 2014-2015 school year but had increased to $7,587,094 in 2015-2016, a 5% increase. The bottom line for most school districts is that they will continue to cut administrative costs to the bone in order to weather the storm, but will strive to provide the best education possible for students by not cutting back on instructional costs.