“Piling up: Administrators rarely say much about school district carry-over funds” (Our Views, Sept. 15) contained misstatements, concerns and questions related to state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi's plan for a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, to be paid with school fund balances and administrative costs.
I don't know of a single school superintendent who would not be eager to discuss carry-over funds. In fact on Sept. 27, 2012, I presented to the state Board of Education (Barresi was present) a detailed account of how Blanchard Public Schools spends fund balance monies and, specifically, what expenditures fund balance monies can be used for. Included in this list were unfunded mandates: insurance premium increases, TLE training and implementation, special education requirement increases, ACE remediation requirements, special education scholarships and virtual school costs, among others. Our fund balance also paid for one-time purchases of school buses, defibrillators, furniture, computers and technology.
Our fund balance was used to pay additional rent for our new high school. State Question 766 eliminated a revenue source, the intangible property tax, which had previously paid this rent. Also, fund balances that schools accumulate are used to pay operational expenses before state aid and ad valorem monies arrive.
Schools also “accumulate” or have carry-over to pay for the funding cuts that we've suffered recently — ad valorem cuts (State Questions 766 and 758), gross production tax losses (horizontal drilling tax reductions) and federal cuts (the sequester). Oklahoma also leads the nation in state aid cuts to public education at 22.8 percent.