Close call for Oklahoma schools

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Close call for Oklahoma schools

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The recent find of 43.8 million dollars puts the State Board of Education’s budget cuts in question.

The money was found in the 1017 Fund, a dedicated revolving fund for education that’s been around since 1990. According to a recent Tulsa World article, it is estimated that around 700 million dollars will be allocated to the State Board of Education from the 1017 fund this year.

Last year, a $155 million shortfall was expected for the 2016 fiscal year, resulting in necessary 3 percent budget cuts to each allocated agency. After a $47 million cut was approved by the State Board of Education, schools across Oklahoma have been preparing for and weathering the effects of the cut.

John Estus, spokesman of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, credits the fund’s success to its diverse revenue stream. Sales taxes, horse track gaming revenues, and use tax revenues partially make up the fund.

There is a possibility that the fund may fail if there is a severe decline in revenue. Estus said that in order for the fund to fail, “it needs to fall short by 10 percent each month” for the rest of the year.

Despite this discovery, however, State Schools Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, still advises schools to brace for more cuts.

Controversy has arisen on how such a critical fund was just now found. According to Oklahoma Watch, Estus said that “the board only looks at current incoming revenue, and does not look at carryover or reserve balances when making its projections.”

“It is very concerning that our elected officials did not keep track of the funding that they had allotted for education, because that would greatly have benefited public education,” said Ada High School teacher Cara Waters.

Although the 1017 fund has brought a safety cushion for public schools, it concerns many about how Oklahoma’s budgeting is being handled.

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