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Edmond School Board members complain about state funding

The student drug testing policy is also being revised for Edmond schools.
by Diana Baldwin Modified: November 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm •  Published: November 6, 2013

— District leaders and members of the school board have a clear message for the state. Funding for public education is not adequate, they said during Monday's meeting.

Edmond School Board President Jamie Underwood also said she was not pleased with comments made over the weekend by Gov. Mary Fallin. The governor said additional funding for education could be in jeopardy if education supporters continue to criticize the state's A-F grading system.

The board approved the 2013-14 budget. Chief Financial Officer Lori Smith said projected revenue is $131.1 million. Expenditures for the district, with 23,037 students, would be $138.6 million. To meet that, Smith said, the school district will use $7.5 million of its beginning fund balance of $15.3 million, leaving a balance of $7.8 million.

That news isn't good for the 1,471 Edmond teachers. With the projections leaving the district with a fund balance of 6 percent, there will be no one-time $200 stipend awarded to teachers in February. To do that, the fund balance would have had to be 6.5 percent, Smith said. There is a slim hope midterm state adjustments in December could boost that percentage, she said.

“We'd have to have $32.87 more per child and in the past that number is only a few dollars,” she said.

Smith also didn't hesitate to take verbal jabs at state politicians, claiming the numbers don't show they are making public education a priority.

That elicited Underwood's critique of Fallin's remarks, which Underwood said she found “frustrating.”

“If you're vocal against the grading policy, it can impact funding,” she said.

Board member Lee Ann Kuhlman urged a group of high school students who attended the board meeting to get involved in trying to get the state to better fund education.

“Have your parents say something also,” she told the students.

Smith displayed a pie chart showing 2000-2001 figures, when state dollars accounted for 59.1 percent of the funding, and this year when that figure dropped to 42 percent. She said state funding decreased due to what she said were lower legislative appropriations and a state aid funding formula, which reduced state support with various local collections. The Edmond ad valorem tax base, Smith said, has grown.

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by Diana Baldwin
Sr. Reporter
Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976 and came to The Oklahoman in 1991. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote...
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If you're vocal against the grading policy, it can impact funding.”

Lori Smith,
chief financial officer


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