Oklahoma Makes Largest Cuts In Education
Ponca City Now - September 23, 2013 9:08 am
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Oklahoma has made the deepest cuts to school funding in the nation since the start of the recession.
Dr. David Pennington, Ponca City School Board Superintendent showed me some numbers.
“But the reality is we have 200 million less statewide," Pennington said. "We got 1.7 million less in this district and we are running out of time for the economic improvement to happen.”
Pennington said if Ponca City doesn’t see legislators making economic improvements cuts will be made.
There will be even larger class sizes and possible elimination of more electives.
The average elementary class size in this district is already at 27 and high school can be up to 40 students.
The high school already cut drivers ed, wood shop and a career tech class.
Pennington said they haven’t had to cut the mainstays of high school electives, but fears that may be next.
“I hope we do not have to have that discussion, but again without some significant action by the legislature Ponca City and other districts in the state are going to have to have that conversation," Pennington said. "Some of us might have that conversation for the 2014-2015 school year, others may have it in the 2015-2016, but that conversation is coming across the state unless we have significant increases in funding for our schools.”
Pennington said personnel takes up 90 percent of the budget, so we will be seeing cuts there too.
“Two years ago in physical year 12 we carried over 14 percent of our general fund budget," Pennington said. "This year we carried over nine percent and our projection at the end of 2013-2014 our fund balance is going to be at about four percent and that’s just unsustainable.”
Pennington said he acknowledges that education gets the largest share of state appropriated funds, but it is still down significantly since 2009.
“Hopefully the things the legislature has done we see the payout in tax cuts, we see the pay off in workers comp reform, we see payoff in tort reform," Pennington said. "We see dramatic increase in Oklahoma economy which raises enough dollars to make it easy to spend more money on schools.”
Pennington said all the research he has read says the education students receive is the most important factor in attracting business to the state and helping your states economy.