The state Education Department on Friday authorized the money to be sent to districts electronically. It should hit schools' bank accounts today, agency officials said.
"The check's in the mail, so to speak, state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett said.
Between November 2000 and February 2001, schools' heating costs topped $32.9 million. That's more than double the previous year's total of $15.2 million.
The $10 million supplemental appropriation, approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Frank Keating in late March, will pay for roughly 56 percent of the increase at 539 of the state's 544 school districts. Five districts White Oak, Kinta, Fanshawe, Nashoba and Hardesty didn't apply for the emergency funding, the Education Department said.
Tulsa schools, which had the state's highest heating bills, will receive almost $1.19 million. The Oklahoma City School District will receive about $738,000.
Tulsa schools spokesman John Hamill said the district is grateful for the financial help. The district's heating bill during the four-month winter period jumped nearly $2.1 million.
"It certainly helps us with a situation that certainly caught us, as well as everybody else who does budgeting, by surprise, he said.
Tulsa-area businesses also opened their wallets, donating more than $600,000 to the schools, United Way and other charitable organizations to help with heating costs.
Hamill said the district is doing all it can to cut costs. The superintendent's weekly bulletin routinely contained tips to help administrators conserve where possible.