Faced with standstill funding levels appropriated by the Oklahoma Legislature last month that directed more than $445 million to be spent on line items such as flexible benefits allowances for teachers and school support personnel, early childhood education, alternative education and bonuses for board-certified teachers, the Oklahoma State Board of Education in a special meeting on Tuesday afternoon approved an almost $457 million Activities Fund Budget for public schools.
The approved budget can be found online here.
The Board acted to restore a portion of funding for some items it had been forced to cut during last year's budget shortfall -- such as Great Expectations, funds for the FIRST Robotics competition and A+ Schools. It also protected funding for items such as the Oklahoma Arts Institute and Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom.
But with only $10.5 million available to budget for programs that required millions more, the Board had to leave several key priorities without funding -- including dollars for reading sufficiency and adult education.
"The Board made the best of a difficult year," said State Supt. Janet Barresi. "We intend to immediately begin working to seek a supplemental appropriation from the Legislature next year to offset some very painful cuts. In particular, we'll be asking for a supplemental appropriation to help with reading sufficiency funds. With very few dollars available, the Board simply couldn't fund those items."
The board had made a budget request in December to the Legislature for a $157 million increase. Overall, the Legislature increased the total amount for the activities fund by $3 million.