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Oklahoma Public Schools Brace For Additional Cuts

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That shortfall means an additional $11.1 million in general education cuts, and $39.2 million less than expected in the education reform revolving fund. That shortfall means an additional $11.1 million in general education cuts, and $39.2 million less than expected in the education reform revolving fund.
Union Public Schools CFO, Dr. Trish Williams. Union Public Schools CFO, Dr. Trish Williams.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The State Board of Equalization certified there will be a state budget shortfall of $878 million for fiscal year 2018.

That shortfall means an additional $11.1 million in general education cuts, and $39.2 million less than expected in the education reform revolving fund.

School districts said they were not surprised. They knew the cuts were coming, but that doesn't mean they're not worried.

All across the state, school districts are trying to avoid more cuts.

Union Public Schools already eliminated 48 positions last May, and this revenue failure could not come at a worse time.

Union Public Schools CFO, Dr. Trish Williams said, "We have difficulty filling our teaching positions, and this is the point in the year when we need to be planning and staffing for next year. This makes it doubly difficult to do that."

Lawmakers announced the revenue failure means $11.1 million in cuts to common education from the general fund and $39.2 million in cuts from the education reform fund.

2/21/2017 Related Story: Revenue Failure Leads To More Cuts In State

That means public school districts are dealing with 50 million less than they thought.

"This is very serious. This is really very, very concerning to schools," Williams said.

She said she knows more cuts are coming, and estimates Union could be going into the next school year with $2 million in budget cuts.

Melissa Abdo with Stand For Children Oklahoma said, "It's tragic. It means that public schools will yet again face another round of devastating cuts, and that's not good for Oklahoma students."

Stand For Children Oklahoma is a group that focuses on strengthening public schools. Abdo said the onus is on state lawmakers to fix this.

"It is definitely time for bold leadership from our lawmakers, and they must keep all revenue-raising measures on the table in order to address this," she said.

Williams said, "It's clear that it's time for the state legislature to take action on recurring stable sources of revenue to fund state services."

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying:

"Today's General Revenue failure, although not unexpected, poses a hardship to districts and schools already stretched thin as a result of ongoing budgetary challenges. It is difficult for any state entity to absorb a budget cut halfway through the fiscal year, but we are thankful to see encouraging signs that the energy sector may be rebounding."

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