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  • Budget priorities for 2020-2021 academic year February 2020What we hear from our local legislators and others at the state level is that it would be safest to plan for a flat budget for schools in ...
    Posted Feb 8, 2020, 3:22 AM by Granger Meador
  • State budget agreement announced Reports of a state budget deal for the 2020 fiscal year is good news for the school district. The agreement between Governor Stitt, House Speaker McCall, and Senate President Pro ...
    Posted May 24, 2019, 1:07 AM by Granger Meador
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Budget priorities for 2020-2021 academic year

posted Feb 8, 2020, 3:22 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Feb 8, 2020, 3:22 AM ]

February 2020

What we hear from our local legislators and others at the state level is that it would be safest to plan for a flat budget for schools in 2020-2021, although we will continue to advocate for increased per-pupil funding since Oklahoma’s remains the lowest in the region and the number of teachers with emergency certification has continued to increase statewide even with two consecutive years of significant salary improvements.

A high priority is improving class sizes, with the state moving toward gradually re-imposing HB 1017-style class size limits of 20 students in elementary classes and 140 students per day for secondary school teachers. Our current elementary class size targets are 23 in Pre-Kindergarten, 24 in Kindergarten, and 25 in First Grade through Fifth Grade. Our middle school teachers currently average 100 students per day, and our high school teachers currently average 120 students per day.

We intend to follow the state’s lead in focusing first on reducing early childhood class sizes, with new local targets of 20 in Pre-Kindergarten which gradually rise to 23 in Third Grade. We project those can be achieved by rebalancing our staffing, which will mean reducing some secondary teaching positions at both middle schools and BHS and adding elementary positions while keeping our secondary class load averages well below the HB 1017 limit.

This is part of a strategic approach to achieve long-term, sustainable, and lasting gains for students, which includes maintaining our commitments to recent successful initiatives such as the ATLAS elementary alternative program.

2020-2021 Budget Priorities

  • Attract and retain teachers and support personnel: fully fund a step increase for all staff

  • Improve class sizes: reduce Pre-Kindergarten through Third Grade class sizes

  • Hire an elementary technology integration specialist: provide year-round professional development and support given the positive impact of the secondary position added in 2019-2020 and the influx of Chromebooks in the elementary schools

  • Build out the Agriculture Education program: add a second teacher to that new program so that it will be able to offer a complete course sequence to students

  • Special Services: ensure the existing programs have appropriate workloads

  • School Resource Officer: explore expanding our partnership with the City of Bartlesville to add a third SRO to provide increased services across the nine school sites

State budget agreement announced

posted May 21, 2019, 6:53 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated May 24, 2019, 1:07 AM ]

Reports of a state budget deal for the 2020 fiscal year is good news for the school district. The agreement between Governor Stitt, House Speaker McCall, and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat is to provide a $157.7 million increase for common education. The agreement should fund:
  • $1,220 average teacher pay raise
    • Bartlesville will again provide the full mandated raise to its certified staff PLUS enhance that by paying the employees' mandated 7% contribution to the Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System  (OTRS) on top of the district's own required 9.5% contribution to OTRS
    • The raise will be permanent and not a one-time stipend despite it not being a change in the minimum salary schedule 
    • How the raise is distributed across the schedule will be determined in the summer bargaining process of the Bartlesville Education Association and the district; each district can give it across-the-board or provide different levels of raises across the steps and lanes of its schedule, so long as it certifies the overall average raise is $1,220 or more
    • The annual increase in the Flexible Benefit Allowance for teachers' health insurance was funded for $15.3 million
    • Contrary to some claims, this will likely not result in Oklahoma average teacher pay being first in the region since Texas is expected to provide its own teacher raise, but it will keep the state's teacher salaries competitive amidst a record teacher shortage with about 3,000 emergency certified teachers across Oklahoma, including over 20 in Bartlesville
  • $74.3 million through the funding formula to local districts
BPSD will use the formula funding to address the previously published 2019-20 budget priorities:
  • Fully fund a step increase for all teachers and classified staff
  • Initiate the ATLAS elementary alternative program for 24 students, funding a teacher and teacher assistant while Grand Lake Mental Health provides a behavior health coach and a certified mental health therapist
  • Provide a Secondary Technology Integration Specialist to support Canvas, Chromebooks, and more across the three secondary schools
  • Initiate the Agriculture Education program with a first teacher; over 100 students have already enrolled across the two middle schools and BHS
  • Provide an assistant principal for Wayside, the district's largest elementary school, which is now larger than Central Middle School and serves over 1/4 of the district's elementary students
  • Improve class sizes: upper elementary class sizes were already projected to improve as a larger 5th-grade cohort advances to the middle schools, but the district expects to hire two more elementary school teachers as it lowers the class size target for upper elementary grades from 28 to 25
Currently projecting a slight decline in the fund balance
The district was already facing a $440,000 reduction in state aid in 2019-20 due to enrollment drops in previous years; district funding is based on the highest weighted average daily membership over the past three years. 

All of the projected new revenue from the state will likely NOT be sufficient to fully cover:
  • the mandated raises with benefits
  • the loss in state aid due to past enrollment changes
  • funding the budget priorities
Consequently, the district fund balance is currently projected to decline by about $150,000. All projections are subject to change as details on the state funding and other data materialize.

Building fund improvements should help
The district's building fund has been burdened with lease purchase interest payments, but those will end this summer. The consequent improving balance in the building fund should provide the district enough flexibility that the projected drop in the General Fund's balance is not a major concern.

Bond issues will remain vital
Because the General Fund balance is expected to drop, the district will remain heavily reliant on current and future bond issues to meet operating costs for technology hardware and services, maintenance, curricular purchases, and so forth. Voters will be asked to consider a new bond issue on August 13, 2019 to provide funding for bondable operational costs as well as facility improvements.

Even with the increase in state funding, Oklahoma will remain last in the region in per-pupil funding. Continued increases in state funding will be needed.
Budget agreement photo
Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, Governor Kevin Stitt, State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister, and Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall announced a state budget agreement on May 15, 2019

2019-2020 Budget Priorities

posted Jan 24, 2019, 8:31 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Jan 24, 2019, 8:31 AM ]

Bartlesville’s leadership in the successful effort in spring 2018 to secure better salaries for teachers and support staff statewide, along with an improving state economy, has provided the foundation for further improvements in 2019-2020. The leaders of the new legislature and the new governor continue to signal they recognize the state must continue to reinvest in public schools. So we have the exciting prospect of prioritizing likely budget additions rather than the repeated cuts of recent years.

A high priority for the district will be improving class sizes. However, it does not anticipate receiving a large enough increase in per-pupil funding to fully accomplish that goal, and the continued teacher shortage will impact its progress. So the district will approach that issue strategically to achieve long-term, sustainable, and lasting gains.

This sea change in the district's prospects was made possible by the courageous efforts of teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members in Bartlesville and across the state.

Changed Priorities

2019-2020 Budget Priorities

  • Improve class sizes: work toward the HB 1017 class size targets of no more than 140 students per day in secondary academic classes and 20 students in elementary classes.

  • Attract and retain teachers: fully fund a step increase for all teachers

  • Initiate an elementary alternative program: hire one teacher and one assistant to partner with Grand Lake Mental Health personnel to serve 24 students severely impacted by adverse childhood experiences; learning conditions across all six sites will also benefit

  • Expand our relationship with Paths to Independence for students with autism: explore a cooperative partnership with PTI, which rents part of the Will Rogers Complex

  • Hire a secondary technology integration specialist: provide year-round professional development and support for the 1:1 Student Computing Initiative

  • Initiate an Agriculture Education program: start with one teacher offering middle school and high school introductory classes, drawing upon community support and resources to begin building out a vocational agriculture program

  • Provide an elementary administrative intern: increase support at Wayside Elementary as it approaches 650 students

Overview of state funding system for schools

posted May 7, 2018, 5:57 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated May 7, 2018, 11:42 AM ]

At the request of a local community group, Granger Meador, the district's Exec. Dir. of Technology & Communications, prepared an overview of the school funding mechanisms in Oklahoma. He states, "This document provides an overview of how public schools are funded in Oklahoma, including their reliance on a funding formula to promote vertical equity, and how those funding mechanisms evolved."

Funding Mechanisms Report

Other presentations on school funding

In the spring of 2018 Meador also presented to the Arvest Financial Forum about the current state of school funding. Below is an updated version of that slideshow, reflecting the possibility that a veto referendum could delay teacher raises by up to a year and thus prolong and probably worsen the critical teacher shortage even if voters rejected the attempt to scuttle new taxes to fund teacher raises.

2018 05 07 School Funding Overview

State school funding overview as of April 19, 2018

posted Apr 20, 2018, 1:40 PM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 20, 2018, 1:45 PM ]

The video and slideshow presentation linked below provide an overview of Oklahoma's funding for its public schools as of late April 2018, after a bill providing much-needed teacher raises was signed into law. The video and slideshow cover the history of school funding cuts, their impacts, key new laws from spring 2018, and the remaining challenges. Some information specific to the Bartlesville Public Schools is included.

State education funding update as of 4/1/2018

posted Apr 1, 2018, 10:42 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 2, 2018, 3:21 PM ]

Fallin signs teacher pay raises into law
In late March 2018 the legislature, pressured by an impending statewide teacher walkout on April 2, passed and the governor signed into law enough new revenues to fully fund:
  • teacher pay raises
  • school support employee pay raises
  • restoration of the state textbooks activity fund
  • the annual increase in school employee health insurance benefits
  • some additional operational funding through the state aid formula

As of April 1, Governor Fallin had also signed into law the teacher pay raises while the bill with the education appropriation authority for the remaining items as well as the school support pay raise bill had been sent to her but not yet signed.

However, the legislature also sent to the governor a bill for state employee pay raises, and there was not sufficient new revenue yet signed into law to fully cover that cost. So while the increased education funding seems secure to cover the costs of the various school measures, how the legislature will balance the budget and cover that state worker pay raise is yet to be determined.

Fiscal summary:
  • The Governor has signed into law what the Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates as $496,385,450 million in new revenue available for appropriation for the next fiscal year.
  • The legislature has passed and sent to the Governor a bill appropriating $480,188,942 for the schools, and the House Majority Floor Leader indicated it would be used as follows:
    • $353,501,793 for teacher pay raises
    • $52,000,000 for school support employee pay raises
    • $33,000,000 for textbooks
    • $24,687,149 to cover Flexible Benefits Allowance costs
    • $17,000,000 additional through the State Aid formula
  • OUTSIDE OF EDUCATION, the legislature also sent to the Governor a bill for state employee pay raises which would cost $63,765,398. But the remaining new revenue is only $16,196,508. So there is a $47,568,890 gap that would have to be dealt with by one or more of the following options:
    • Further new revenues to provide that increased appropriation authority
    • Tapping growth revenue, revolving funds, and/or one-time accounts
    • Decreasing appropriations to agencies other than the State Department of Education (or passing and having Governor Fallin accept a reduction in the SDE appropriation already sent to her for consideration, which is highly unlikely)

What are teachers demanding in their walk out?

On 4/2, the teacher demands seemed to be coalescing around two main issues:


Teacher Pay Raises

The State Minimum Teacher Salary Schedule has been increased from $5,001 for a teacher with a bachelor's degree and no teaching experience to $8,395 for a teacher with a doctoral degree and 25 or more years of teaching experience. The raises range from 15.8 to 18.25%.
The Governor has been sent but as of 4/1 had not yet signed HB 1026xx to provide a raise of $1,250 for school support employees. It includes a provision to pro-rate the raise for employees who are not full time.

However, this raise would not apply to outsourced employees since they are not employed by the district, and the district would also not expect increased state funding for outsourced positions. In 2017-18 that includes our district's custodians, school-age care workers, and lawn services. In 2018-19 that would also likely include child nutrition workers, although the outsourcing of that group is expected to result in improved performance on worker benefits.

Restoration of the State Textbooks Activity Fund

In 2016 the state eliminated $33,000,000 in funding for textbooks. That will be restored and available for the 2019 textbook adoption of Language Arts & Instructional Technology (which does NOT include Reading & Literature).

This will yield less than the cost of one typical textbook per student per year, but would still be a considerable boost to the district, which currently must rely entirely on school bond funding for textbooks.

The textbooks purchased now and in the future for our secondary schools will consist of electronic licenses for use with take-home Chromebooks, with a limited number of physical copies. Elementary schools will still rely on physical copies until more elementary-age devices are available.

Annual Increase in School Employee Health Insurance Benefits

The House Majority Leader indicated that the increased cost in FY19 of the state Flexible Benefit Allowance as state health insurance premiums rise should be covered at no cost to the district.

Some Additional Operational Funding through the State Aid Formula

The House Majority Leader indicated that $17,000,000 in new revenue will flow to districts through the State Aid formula. However, the district is already facing a loss of funding due to enrollment factors, and the increase in State Aid will not offset that. So we are not expecting any net new revenue to help us address class sizes, instructional supply budgets, or restoration of electives or programs.

False Rumors

Bartlesville's leadership on the funding issues can be a double-edged sword. We have seen claims the district made some sort of deal with legislators to only participate for one day in a walkout in exchange for them passing something resembling the Bartlesville plan.

That is absolutely untrue. Our teachers were at the multiple input meetings we had almost every day last week, with many at the general meeting last Thursday when teachers spoke freely on all sides of the walkout issue. The group consensus at that point was to walk out on Monday and plan to return to class on Tuesday.

Once our teachers reached an obvious new consensus that a longer walkout was justified, our superintendent used the school board's authorization to extend the walkout. 

Bartlesville has led the way this year, and is willing to continue to lead or to follow if called upon to do so. Sounds like the OEA and other groups are working on a specific plan, and we Bartians love plans - because they work!

District Budget Update for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year

posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:12 PM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 18, 2017, 12:13 PM ]

Chuck McCauley
This headline from KOTV created quite a stir on Thursday, April 13, 2017: State Lacks Cash For April School Payrolls Prompting Another School Budget Cut.

Knowing we had to build up our depleted fund balance, our district made significant personnel cuts before August 2016 to reduce our annual expenditures by $1.2 million. At this point, we are on track for a net cut of approximately $900,000 in state funding. So the conservative budget the Board of Education adopted last summer means we will have no problem making our payrolls.

Additionally, in August 2016 the Bartlesville community voted overwhelmingly to increase property taxes in order to shift at least an additional $700,000 in annual operating expenses from the district’s general fund to bond funds.  Because we received bond funds in the middle of this school year, we were able to shift about $450,000 for this fiscal year. We will shift a minimum of $700,000 for 2017-2018.

We continue to make tough decisions such as streamlining administrative positions. Those reductions will reduce our annual district expenditures by approximately $160,000, adding to $292,000 in annual savings created by the elimination of three central office administrative positions for the 2016-2017 school year. We do not anticipate other significant personnel reductions will be needed.

So our budget priorities for 2017-2018 have not changed. They are to:

  • rebuild the district fund balance
  • protect existing programs
  • expand STEM curricula into the elementary schools
  • expand use of instructional technology
  • recruit and retain talented teachers by maintaining class sizes, providing salary increases, and improving school culture

The state revenue failures mean our district fund balance at the end of the fiscal year will be around 7%, whereas a few months ago we were on track to end at around 10%.   

Chuck McCauley   

Bond issues help prevent staffing cuts

posted Mar 23, 2017, 6:36 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 23, 2017, 10:45 AM by District Webmaster ]

The successful August 2016 bond issues for the Bartlesville Public Schools were motivated primarily by repeated shortfalls in state funding in early 2016. Repeated cuts in state funding since 2008 had led to a reduction in the district fund balance from 15% to below 6%, a level too low to ensure it could cover its December payroll as it awaited receipt of property tax revenues in January.

So for the 2016-2017 school year, the district cut 5% of its teachers and additional administrators and support staff to address the continued loss of revenue from the state. But the district wisely did not trust that the state economy would improve nor that the legislature and governor would adequately fund public education and other state services. Since state leaders had failed to address school funding shortfalls since 2008, the district decided to seek help from local voters.

State Leads Nation in School Funding Cuts

Nearly 27 percent of state per pupil funding, adjusted for inflation, has been cut since 2008. That figure not only leads the nation but is nearly double the percentage of cuts made by Alabama, the second worst state for education funding reductions.


The district went to voters in August 2016, asking them to increase local property taxes in order to shift at least $700,000 in additional annual operating expenses from the district's general fund to bond funds. The district projected that 15 or more teaching positions could be preserved from future cuts by this action. Local voters overwhelmingly approved, with 70% and 73% voting YES on two bond issues.


During the current school year, the state has again had revenue failures in both its general fund and in dedicated funding sources for public schools. Preston Birk, the district's Chief Financial Officer, reported on 3/20/2017 to the Bartlesville Board of Education that the district is down $380,000 in state appropriated revenue from the already dismal funding from the prior year. At the current pace, he projected the district might be losing an additional $900,000 in state funding over the entire 2016-2017 school year.


The good news is that the district is currently NOT planning on any reduction in teachers nor an increase in average class sizes for 2017-2018 despite the continued reduction in state funding. The shifting of expenses to the bond issues is clearly a key reason for that happy outcome, along with additional administrative streamlining for 2017-2018 and the staffing cuts already implemented in 2016-2017.


Mr. Birk reported that, with the staffing cuts and shifting of expenses to bond funds, the fund balance is projected to be around the minimum safe 7% level by the end of the fiscal year.


Oklahoma is in an education funding crisis. Teacher salaries are so low that Bartlesville and other districts statewide are unable to find certified teachers for all open positions, even with large staffing cuts. 

District operating revenues are so low that the district has had to ask voters to raise local property taxes to make up for the massive reductions in state funding. If, as projected, the district loses another $900,000 in state funding by the end of this school year, that will exceed the operational expense shifts provided by the bond issues. So the remaining loss and any additional future cuts  not covered by growth in local revenue will have to be borne by past and future staffing cuts.

Bartlesville voters can be proud that their support is why their district has some of the lowest average class sizes among the state's large 6A districts. But until there is a change in attitude and support for schools in state government, the district will continue to be unable to find enough certified teachers to fill open positions. And if funding shortfalls are not addressed, eventually the district will be forced to cut more teachers and raise class sizes further.

State funding cuts

Administrative streamlining for 2017-2018

posted Feb 3, 2017, 8:46 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Feb 21, 2017, 6:03 AM ]

The Bartlesville Board of Education approved a plan to further streamline administrative positions for the 2017-2018 school year at its meeting on February 20, 2017. Four administrative positions will be eliminated at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and two new positions created in a consolidation and reorganization of the district’s athletics and high school administration. As part of the process, four administrators currently occupying the eliminated positions will be non-reemployed at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. The affected administrators are eligible to apply for the two newly created positions and other open positions in the district.

The board approved the elimination of the position of Director of Athletics at the end of the current school year. Tim Bart occupies that position and was head coach of the high school varsity boys basketball team from 2000-2014. He has been the district’s Director of Athletics since 2011. A new position of Director of Athletics & Activities will be created and filled, adding responsibility over school activities to the current athletic director functions.

The board also approved the elimination of the position of Assistant Director of Athletics at the end of the current school year. Terry Hughes has occupied that position since 2012.  He coached sports and taught social studies for many years at Madison Middle School. The Assistant Director of Athletics position became a full-time administrator position in 2013.  The board also approved the elimination of the position of Bruin Academy Dean at the end of the current school year. Josh Waddell was hired in 2016 for that new position, overseeing the 9-12 alternative high school program housed in Custer Stadium. A new combined position of Bruin Academy Principal and Assistant Director of Athletics will be created and filled.

The board also approved the elimination of one of the four Assistant Principal positions at Bartlesville High School. Jennifer Stahl occupies the Assistant Principal position that is being reduced. She was hired as an assistant principal at Bartlesville Mid-High in 2012 and transitioned to the current campus in 2015. The duties of the eliminated position will be absorbed into the duties of the remaining assistant principals and principal at the high school.

Bartlesville Superintendent of Schools Chuck McCauley recommended the changes with great regret, citing how state aid money for the district is falling short of projections with two state revenue shortfalls this school year on top of multiple revenue shortfalls in the prior school year. The streamlining will reduce annual district expenditures by approximately $160,000, adding to $292,000 in annual savings created by the elimination of three central office administrative positions for the the 2016-2017 school year. Supt. McCauley stated that the employees associated with the positions being eliminated have done nothing wrong and the changes are based on financial circumstances. He has noted that passage of a bond issue in August 2016 is helping the district, as intended, to shift expenses and avoid cuts in teaching staff.

Supt. McCauley indicated he does not anticipate other significant personnel reductions will be needed. Pointing out that the district has been planning since the spring of 2016 to add an Executive Director of Technology & Communications in July 2017, he said he expects additional technology-related staffing increases will be needed to successfully implement a multi-year 1:1 computing initiative. That program is one of the district budget priorities for 2017-2018, along with rebuilding the district fund balance, protecting existing programs, expanding STEM curricula into the elementary schools, and recruiting and retaining talented teachers by maintaining class sizes, providing salary increases, and improving school culture.

Periodic updates on the district’s budget development process are being posted on the district's website at bps-ok.org under Budget Development in the Quick Links.

Budget Priorities for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year

posted Feb 2, 2017, 8:59 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Feb 22, 2017, 6:36 PM ]

Bartlesville Public Schools

District Budget Priorities for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year

Some additional administrative positions will be eliminated and restructured for the 2017-2018 fiscal year to streamline district operations.  It is NOT anticipated that other significant personnel reductions will be needed. The district’s budget priorities for the 2017-2018 fiscal year include:

  • Rebuild the fund balance - The fund balance in June 2016 was below 6%,  which led to personnel reductions to ensure the district could make its December payroll as it awaited receipt of annual property taxes. Those reductions and a successful bond issue that diverts some expenses from the General Fund to bond funds should help rebuild the fund balance to a bit below 10%. That should be large enough to ride out additional state revenue cuts.

  • Recruit and retain talented teachers - The teacher shortage is the biggest threat to public education in Oklahoma. The district must be prepared to fill known vacancies earlier than in the past: March instead of June.

    • Maintain class sizes - Maintain the current average class sizes of 22 for elementary, 26­ for middle school, and 27 for high school core classes.

    • Provide salary increases - At least fund the usual step increase in the teacher salary schedule, and do more if possible to improve salaries.

    • Improve school culture - Build a culture to make the district a great place to work. Involve staff in the decision-making process, ensure ideas are heard and considered, tailor professional development to fit staff needs instead of one-size-fits-all, and provide resources to address changing demographics.

  • Protect programs - Continue to offer a wide range of academic and extracurricular offerings for our students.

  • Expand STEM - Expand Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities by expanding Project Lead the Way curricula from high school and middle school down into all elementary schools via Launch modules.

  • Expand use of instructional technology - Invest in technology resources, including infrastructure, devices, training, and additional staffing, to successfully implement a multi-year 1:1 computing initiative to better prepare students for a future in which technological literacy will be critical to most occupations.


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