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Message from the Superintendent: Oklahoma is in a budget crisis

Originally posted April 19, 2017

Colleagues,

As most of you know, Oklahoma continues to be in a budget crisis.  I want to provide you with a brief update as to how this is impacting Union Public Schools.

We have now experienced four budget cuts this fiscal year totaling $2,279,423.  We also expect two additional cuts in our state aid payments for May and June.  Despite these cuts, we will be able to meet our current fiscal obligations through June 30, 2017, meaning that all contracts will be paid out for the remainder of FY16-17.

Looking forward, the state is dealing with a budget shortfall for FY17-18 of around $870 million and we should be prepared for cuts.  We have been informed that these cuts to common education could range from two to twelve percent.  This is a huge range for us to consider as we build the FY17-18 school budget.

Unfortunately, we cannot just sit and wait for these cuts to be announced as it will be too late for us in terms of preparing and executing contracts, programs, and services related to next year’s budget.  Protecting our class sizes will continue to be a priority, but we also recognize that significant cuts to our budget will negatively impact this priority.  Over the next several weeks, we will begin to announce some program and leadership changes in order to prepare for a budget cut of approximately five percent.  This will result in a cut to our budget of around $2.5 million.  Consequently, if our cuts increase to ten percent, then our budget would have to be cut around $5 million, resulting in additional reductions to our staffing and programs.  

I am deeply saddened by the recurring and growing shortfalls we face in Oklahoma.  This revenue shortfall – structural deficit - we continue to deal with should be highly concerning to us all.  We can only hope our policymakers and state leaders find the uncommon courage to address this issue moving forward.  We will update you as we learn more about common education funding for FY17-18.

Please know that I greatly appreciate the work that all of you are doing.  Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our students, families, and this organization. The Union community is most fortunate to have each of you working on their behalf. 

Respectfully,

Kirt Hartzler, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Union Public Schools