HUNDREDS of Oklahoma school districts get money to offset energy costs - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

HUNDREDS of Oklahoma school districts get money to offset energy costs

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Hundreds of Oklahoma school districts are sharing in $10 million sent by the state to offset high heating costs from last winter.

The money, which hit school district bank accounts Tuesday, will pay for roughly 56 percent of the increase at 539 of the state's 544 school districts.

Heating costs for Oklahoma schools topped $32.9 million between November 2000 and February 2001 _ more than double their costs during the same period the previous year.

Five districts _ White Oak, Kinta, Fanshawe, Nashoba and Hardesty _ didn't get the emergency funding for various reasons, the state 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.

``It certainly helps us with a situation that certainly caught us, as well as everybody else who does budgeting, by surprise,'' Tulsa schools spokesman John Hamill said.

Tulsa-area businesses also donated more than $600,000 to schools and other charitable organizations to help with heating costs.

Debbie Sharp, the Oklahoma City district's executive director of financial services, said the extra money will help but still leaves the district with a hefty utilities tab.

``We've trimmed our budget here and there and had some places where we had some savings,'' she said.

To help pay for additional costs, she said the district could take as much as $500,000 out of reserves.

Sharp said she is budgeting for increased heating costs for the next fiscal year.

Bill Self, assistant superintendent for Stigler schools in Haskell County, said schools simply must budget better to be ready for such emergencies.

``I just don't see the state being able to step in and refund us the type of revenue they did this year on an annual basis,'' he said.
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