Budget For Growing Owasso School District Remains Uncertain
OWASSO, Oklahoma - As the school year comes to a close, school districts are drawing up very uncertain budgets for next year.
In Owasso, the district isn't sure about their state funding for next month, or next year; on top of that, they have the added pressure of more students enrolling.
Owasso Superintendent Dr. Clark Ogilvie said, “We really don't know what to plan for next year and we're at the mercy of the legislature.”
Ogilvie has the same frustration as many school leaders - he's got to make a budget now but the numbers are very uncertain.
He needs to be adding teachers to accommodate growth but might have to cut back.
“It's not our intention to layoff teachers; think carryover funds can help us weather the storm because of the cuts we made last year. Now, about hiring new additional teachers, that's an unknown,” he said.
Last summer, expecting cuts, Owasso reduced staff by 54 people to save money; so far, the state cut funding by $600,000 this year and they're expected another cut of $500,000 in the next month.
Owasso continues to grow so they are in the position of needing more teachers next year, yet they can't hire them with the budget so unclear.
Ogilvie said, “They're not there in huge numbers, but they're there, and in our case it might be 150 or 200 students, that means an increase of two or three teachers, so you find yourself looking for teachers as late as September, which is a very difficult thing to do.”
The district has a $53 million budget and 93 percent of that is salaries, so any swings in the budget impacts teachers and staff.