Dealing with Oklahoma's school finances

Thursday, June 12th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Undated-AP) -- Oklahoma schools are preparing for their third straight year of tight budgets, and any hopes that a lottery would provide a speedy boost were dashed during the legislative session.

Supporters pushed the lottery as the savior of cash-strapped schools, but the lottery likely won't provide any funds until 2006 -- and that's only if voters approve the plan in the November 2004 election.

But school officials say districts are in crisis and need the money now.

The lottery was the centerpiece of Governor Brad Henry's plans to boost education funding. He wanted voters to consider the lottery and a constitutional amendment ensuring its proceeds go to schools during a special election this year.

But Henry set the late polling date after the House defeated the special election clause in the companion amendment.

Meanwhile, schools must make do with a budget that restores just $80-million of last year's $273-million in cuts.