Administrators in several Oklahoma school districts say they aren’t counting on initial state aid allocations and are making conservative estimates of their own.
State Education Department officials released initial state aid allocation data last week showing the tentative amount of state aid and federal stimulus money districts will receive.
State aid allocation is based upon several factors, including the amount of local money districts receive, average daily membership in schools and types of students.
Because revenue collections for the state have been lower than expected, allocations could change, said James White, assistant state superintendent for finance.
"It may get worse. We may have to reduce those later,” White said. "Right now we’re telling school districts not to do anything drastic but to plan for cuts.”
White said three districts in the state — Straight, Watson and Boynton — are struggling financially and may have trouble paying their bills if there are cuts.
David Fraser, chief financial officer for the Edmond Public Schools, said the initial allocation numbers help administrators see if factors have changed.
This year, for example, aid went up about $15 per student in the state, but most of that money will go to pay an increase into the state teachers’ retirement fund.
"We do our own projections. We’ve ended the year with an adequate and healthy fund balance. We’ll take a conservative approach,” Fraser said.
Fraser said he expects the Edmond district to grow in enrollment — perhaps by 350 students — and the overall budget to be up about $2.5 million, including local ad valorem.
Further analysis of school districts' state aid allocations