Three Oklahoma school districts end fiscal year 2003 with budget deficits

Thursday, February 5th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A court judgment was levied against a northern Oklahoma school district that had a budget deficit of nearly $26,000 at the end of the last school year.

Avant, located in Osage County, joined the Comanche and Davidson districts as the only districts out of 541 in the state that were in debt after the 2002-03 school year 2003, state officials said this week.

Last year, a state Education Department survey showed 29 districts estimated they would have a budget deficit for fiscal 2003. By May, that number had dropped to six.

Avant Superintendent Tod Williams reported a $25,863 deficit. The pre-kindergarten- through eighth-grade school district has an annual budget of about $800,000.

The district will pay NBC Bank of Pawhuska over the next three years, Williams said. Residents will pay about $5 to $15 more in property taxes annually over a three-year period to retire the debt.

Lu Norman, executive director of financial accounting for the state Education Department, said districts are responsible for submitting to the agency financial audits that department staff members then review.

The department is awaiting an audit from the Comanche School District, officials said.

Superintendent Terry Davidson said the district avoided going to judgment, but ended the school year with a deficit of $140,918 for fiscal 2003.

Davidson Superintendent Phillip Ratcliff said his district's $47,550 deficit stemmed from the late arrival of federal funding.

The money came after June 30 _ the end of the fiscal year _ and the funding covered the district's deficit, Ratcliff said.