Local Schools Dealing With State Funding Shortfall

Thursday, March 6th 2008, 5:46 pm
By: News On 6

State funding shortfalls send chills through the Oklahoma school system.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports there is a $41.5 million deficit statewide.

That translates into about a 2% cut for every school district.  For example, in Broken Arrow, it's a loss of $877,000.

Katherine Weinacht is just a couple of years into her teaching career in Oklahoma, and the news is sobering.

"I knew what I was getting into when I came into teaching.  But, it's still very discouraging, and it makes me sad because it affects our kids," said teacher Katherine Weinacht.

Broken Arrow spokesman Keith Isbell says the first effect will be a spending freeze on materials.

"We say what you have right now in terms of supplies, tangible items, is what you're going to get for the remainder of the school year, and we hope for the best," said Keith Isbell.

"In a first-grade classroom, there's a lot of stuff, a lot of hands-on things that we do, and we need the materials to do the hands-on learning.  So it scares me a little bit," said teacher Katherine Weinacht.  "I had a list of things that we were going to get that I was going to use in my classroom, and that's gone, and I've got to figure out what I'm going to do now."

The big problem for schools is that funding comes in from the state on a monthly basis, but teacher pay is locked in for the whole year through a contract with the teacher's union.

"We have a lot of obligations that we still have to meet, and so that puts everyone in a very difficult situation," said Keith Isbell.

Isbell says they can absorb a 2% hit for awhile, but not forever.