EDMOND — 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.
With the opening of new schools, Smith said, funds will be tight. Frontier Elementary opened this year. Heritage Elementary opens next year, and an unnamed sixth middle school will open the year after that.
Superintendent David Goin said discussions will possibly be held with state Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley.
“He is from Edmond,” Goin said.
The district's drug testing policy was revisited Monday, a month after parent Leslie Petrie complained to the board. She was not pleased that her daughter was dropped from a debate class after she refused to sign a drug-testing consent form.
The board implemented the policy during the spring semester. In September, the student, then a sophomore at Edmond North High School, agreed not to participate in extracurricular activities of debate. She wanted to continue the class and do other assignments to make up for not participating in team competition. She has since left North and is being homeschooled.
The board updated the language to indicate that students who refuse to take the drug test should be barred from “interscholastic competitions,” and not “any activities,” as had been the original wording.
While reviewing the policy, board member Kathleen Duncan asked district staff to possibly be more flexible when it comes to students who fail the test. The policy calls for those students and their parents or guardians to assume the cost of future testing and counseling.
Susan Parks-Schlepp, district information officer, said the schools pay the initial $32 cost for testing each student.
If you're vocal against the grading policy, it can impact funding.”
chief financial officer