State Superintendent: Schools Won’t Make It Without Using Rainy Day Fund

Tuesday, March 8th 2016, 6:23 pm

The governor wants to tap into the state's savings to keep schools going.

The proposal has the support of the state school superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, who said schools can't make it without it.

Hofmeister said she's traveling the state to report what's happening with the budget crisis and public schools. Tuesday, she told the Tulsa County Republican Women the schools are in uncharted territory with both an immediate crisis of money and a longer term shortage of teachers.

“Certainly, the education of our kids is an investment in the future of our state,” Hofmeister said.

She said she fully supports tapping the Rainy Day Fund for the $51 million the governor said she's prepared to use.

Hofmeister asked for $56 million to offset cuts of $109 million made in the current year.

“The school districts just don't have room before the end of the year to absorb those cuts, and those are going to be a real blow to students if we don't have a way to cushion that," she said.

Legislative leaders support using the money while they're working on next year's budget which is certain to be substantially smaller than this year.

Hofmeister remains confident the legislature can fix the problem for next year; but, right now, is hoping they'll quickly approve the emergency money.

“It's cut to the bone at this point, but providing that supplemental is what I believe is essential for completing the year for students," Hofmeister.

The state superintendent was non-committal on another issue for schools, the voucher plan now in the legislature.

She said she fully supports school choice but wouldn't say if tax dollars should go through parents to decide how to spend it.

She would only say she's still reviewing new language on vouchers just introduced and that she's fully focused on the budget issue right now.