Oklahoma educators wait to see how State Question 766 will affect funding

Oklahoma voters passed State Question 766 in November, and educators are waiting to see how the aftershocks of that election will affect their budgets.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: March 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm •  Published: March 14, 2013

Three years ago, the district went through a series of austerity measures, such as laying off workers and restructuring central office staff. If the district has to tighten its belt again, Park said the goal will be to maintain academic integrity.

“What's out there that we can look at that won't hurt the classroom?” she said.

Tulsa education officials have predicted their district could lose between $2.5 million and $6 million. Park said she expects Oklahoma City losses would be similar.

Oklahoma City Public Schools has been able to grow the carry-over balance in recent years, but Park said that money won't last forever.

Impact on classrooms

The loss of intangible property taxes is particularly tough considering the cost of extra state mandates on school districts in Oklahoma, such as the new teacher evaluation system and third-grade reading standards, Park said.

“That's where the challenge comes — trying to figure out how to balance those two,” Park said. “It's going to trickle down to the classroom.”

With new school board members and a recently-completed audit, Park said district officials are looking ahead, even if the future is uncertain.

“Even if you're frustrated, you don't have that luxury,” she said. “The kids are still going to be there, whether we're frustrated or not.”

Contributing: Staff Writer Randy Ellis and the Tulsa World