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Edmond School District could face a grim budgeting process

Funding cuts could force Edmond schools to consider increasing class sizes or eliminating programs in upcoming years.
BY NASREEN IQBAL Modified: January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm •  Published: January 21, 2013

Continued enrollment growth, the opening of a new elementary campus and state and federal funding cuts have school officials taking a hard look at budgets for the next two fiscal years.

“To maintain current programs, support the added operations of a new elementary school and cover annual operating expense increases, would necessitate a budget increase,” said Lori Smith, Edmond Public School District controller and assistant treasurer.

This year's general fund budget, for the fiscal year that ends June 30, is $133.4 million, Smith said. Revenues and expenses have not been determined for the 2013-14 budget year.

School officials might not find out how much money they have to operate with until state legislators decide during the upcoming session.

“We need assistance from the state,” said David Goin, school superintendent. “That's the long and short of it.”

“With 95 percent of our general fund tied up in salaries, there isn't a lot left over to go towards other areas,” Smith said. “If the state does not increase funding for common education we could be forced to increase class size, reduce positions and eliminate programs.”

Such changes could be possible within the next two years without adequate funding, Smith said.

Expenses can fluctuate after the budget is approved. For example, this year the district spent $75,000 more on transportation fuel than budgeted. Other expenses included an additional $85,000 for insurance and $25,000 for student drug testing.

The total payroll cost is expected to increase by $6.5 million for this fiscal year, school officials said.

This year's expenses will include $2.7 million in new employee payroll costs, $4.2 million in salary increases and a new elementary school that will cost the district $1.5 million in operating expenses during its first year.

The district has one early childhood center, 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools and a total of 22,500 students. Over the last four years the district has grown by 2,200.

Oklahoma voters in November passed two state questions that will reduce the amount of funding the district will get from district taxpayers.

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