Okla. Legislature misses education funding deadline - again

Lawton_The Oklahoma Legislature has missed the education funding deadline once again, and a lot of school superintendents are frustrated.  Every year, schools must send budget proposals to the capitol to have the Governor sign off on them.  Through these budget proposals, schools plan their expenses for the next school year - teacher salaries, buses, etc.  This year, the delay is really affecting some local schools.

The Oklahoma Superintendent's Office says the state hasn't met the deadline since it was made law in 2003, and it makes it very difficult since just one week after the deadline, schools must decide which teachers they can or cannot afford to keep.

Bray Doyle will have to cut their music program, and Superintendent Kevin McKinley says it's because the Oklahoma Legislature failed to meet the deadline.  "By April the 9th, we have to let every teacher know whether they're going to back here or not," he says.  Since they don't know how much money they can spend next year, budgeting for teachers is difficult - not to mention budgeting for everything else.

McKinley says the bare minimum is at risk.  "My fuel costs have been affected this year, technology costs have been affected, we're just talking about bare necessities for children," he says.  McKinley says this delay forces schools to make even more cuts.  For example, Bray Doyle won't be able to re-hire one of their teachers, and are unable to refill two custodian positions.  "It's disheartening to know that we're looking at cutting programs that keep kids in school."

McKinley trains new superintendents all over the state, and this year he's giving them a warning, along with their training.  "I'm going to tell them to be very cautious - don't hire anyone right now, without knowing the money is going to be there," he says.  He says the public could help, though - just by picking up the phone or writing an email.  "I think the patrons probably should start calling these legislators and say 'Hey, what's up with this?'"

On top of the deadline delay, Superintendent McKinley says there is a $41 Million deficit in this year's school budget.  He says Oklahoma schools were promised money that they haven't received.  With that loss, he says Bray Doyle loses over $41,000, Duncan loses over $240,000, and Lawton loses $1.2 Million.