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Duncan Public Schools Superintendent reacts to Oklahoma budget cuts

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -Oklahoma public schools are facing a budget cut yet again after the state announced their monthly allocations will be lower than projected.

According to the State Department of Education, because of less than expected revenue by the state, they issued budget cuts across the board. The new cuts add up to a two percent reduction in monthly operating funds.

A memo was sent out last week notifying the school districts they will have to dig into other funds to make up for the money lost.

Melonie Hau says this cut brings their total loss since January to over $370,000 dollars. She said they knew there would be a lot of cuts coming this year, but they had no idea it would be this bad.

A never ending battle is how Duncan Superintendent Melonie Hau feels about the fight with the state on public school budget cuts.

"We need to look at bringing in additional revenue and we have to fix this budget now," said Hau. "We cannot wait to do anything about the budget. Something has to happen this legislative session."

She doesn't anticipate having to make any changes for this school year, but the big challenge is ahead. Not being able to hire more teachers.
Over 70 percent of the budget is used for teachers salaries. She says, fortunately, Stephens County is not having any issues on paying the current teachers. It's the class sizes, keeping teachers in the classrooms, school materials and making sure kids still have access to extra curricular activities, that she's worried about.

"I want to make sure that our teachers understand that they're in service for the community and keeping them in the classroom and respecting the work that they do for children is directly tied to the city's economic development and directly tied to our states economic development," said Hau.

During Hau's short three years with Duncan public schools, she never imagined the budget being the main and biggest issue she'd tackle. She's ready to move on and work hard on other improvements.

"We have a vision for school improvement through our strategic plan that we're continually trying to work on, but now were having to balance that vision with the budget and I've mentioned to people that the vision versus the budget is a cage match and we want to make sure the budget doesn't win that the vision carries us forward," said Hau.

Hau is working closely with the other local school districts to see if they can come up with a better strategy to help with the budget. They're already planning for anywhere between 3 to 10 percent more cuts for next year's budget, and that would be an additional $1.3 million out of the budget for next year.

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