State Budget Cuts Funding and Eliminates Programs

Post date: Jun 26, 2011 1:38:03 PM

The State Board of Education has adopted a budget which cuts line-item funding for multiple programs in the state. Historically the legislature dictated most of these line items in their appropriations authorization, but for both 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 they left that to the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education.

Most of the state funding goes through the funding formula. That $1.8 billion amount was cut, as expected, by 4.1 percent or about $140 million. The $21.4 million budget for the state department of education, $12 million of which goes directly to student testing, was cut 4.4%. The $33 million textbook fund was not changed, and districts are still being given flexibility in how that money is spent.

However, the state board also has discretion over a $400 million activities budget. The superintendent said she made it a priority to fully fund the Teacher Retirement Offset, which was not funded in last year's budget and then a state attorney general opinion forced it to be paid partially through the state and partially by local districts.

However, many line items were reduced and several were zeroed out. The attached file compares its 2010-2011 budget (Column 2) to the adopted budget (Column 4).

State line-item funding for the following programs was entirely eliminated:

  • National Board Certified Teacher scholarships and bonuses
  • Literacy First and Reading Sufficiency
  • Adult Education Matching Funds
  • Charter Schools Incentive Fund
  • Science Center
  • Middle School Mathematics Labs
  • Robotics

Funding was restored, after being eliminated in 2010-2011, for AG in the classroom (which was funded by OSU for that year) and Rural Infant Stimulation Environment (RISE is a medical program for early intervention with children with multiple disabilities).

So teachers who have National Board certification and were promised $5,000 annually for 10 years for it by the state received only $3,900 last year and should expect nothing for 2011-2012. The state superintendent encouraged local districts to fund the bonuses out of their discretionary funding, but with the severe cuts the schools are absorbing across the board, which has already led locally to even more layoffs and the closing of Oak Park school, that is highly unlikely.

The cuts will obviously affect Literacy First, which is in use at most of our elementary schools and the middle schools, but the specifics are not yet available. The cuts in Literacy First and Reading Sufficiency are problematic given a new state law requiring that all students read on grade level by third grade or face retention.

The state department also is reportedly playing games on the Flexible Benefit Allowance for health insurance. It claims that it fully funded the benefit, but the Tulsa World reported that the state actually only funded a 10-month fiscal year for the benefit, ignoring the fact that teachers are 12 month employees, leaving districts reponsible for the difference. Our district's shortfall for the flexible benefit allowance for all employees was about $400,000 for 2010-2011 and could increase to about $520,000 for 2011-2012, which will eat further into our fund balance.