The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 28, 2008

Public schools get needed funds

Gov. Brad Henry and legislative budget leaders agreed Friday to appropriate more than $10 million for public schools in a supplementary budget they said is the first installment of a larger package to help public schools pay their bills through the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The agreement, expected to be voted on by House and Senate next week, includes $10 million to cover a shortfall in education funding and $1.5 million for the Academic Achievement Award program. It also includes $3.1 million for Oklahoma Corporation Com-mission to supplement delayed federal funding.

The agreement falls far short of the $41.6 million supplemental budget requested by the state Department of Education. Henry said the initial appropriation addresses public schools’ immediate budget needs, “but it is only a first step.”

“It is critical that we deliver additional funds to common education as quickly as possible to address the remaining school funding shortfall,” Henry said. But the first priority was to get additional money to school districts before April budget checks had to be cut.

Shawn Hime, who will take over as Enid Public Schools superintendent in July, said he would have liked to see legislators fund the full shortfall needed for public education, but he’s hopeful the $10 million will cover April’s payments.

“This initial payment en-sures our schools will get their full funding for April,” said Rep. Ken Miller, R-Edmond, chairman of the House Approp-riations and Budget Commit-tee.

“There will be another supplemental coming,” said Henry’s communications director, Paul Sund. “We know they need more money. We want to give them more money.”

Chisholm Public Schools Superintendent Roydon Tilley said he hopes this agreement is the start of something bigger, because if it isn’t it will affect Chisholm’s budget for this year, as well as next.

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