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Oklahoma Education Leaders Worry Coronavirus Relief Funds Won't Be Enough

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma
A Shawnee Public Schools custodian wipes down a door knob at the district’s central office.";

Oklahoma is continuing to allot its $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding, but education leaders worry that might not be enough.

Governor Kevin Stitt announced last week Oklahoma schools would get $10 million dollars in funding for personal protective equipment. That should cover two reusable masks for every student and teacher, as well as 42,000 face shields. He said cleaning supplies would not be included in this round of funding.

As Congress and The White House work to reach a deal on a second relief package, Stitt told reporters on Thursday that the state doesn’t need one.

"I don’t think we need another stimulus package, no," Stitt said.

But Shawn Hime, the CEO of the Oklahoma State School Board Association, raised concerns about the state’s projected budget hit. Overall, the coronavirus fallout is expected to drop state revenue by over one billion dollars.

"The school portion of that state budget would be over 400 million dollars," Hime said.

Not only are schools losing funding amid the pandemic, Hime said they’re also seeing a slate of new expenses.

"They’re continuing to see increasing costs for COVID-related cleanings, working really hard to have the revenue and resources to offer virtual education to their their students and making sure they have everything they need to protect students and staff while they’re in school," Hime said.

He said the OSSBA is urging the state’s Congressional delegation to reach a deal and said Oklahomans should do the same.

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Catherine Sweeney was StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter from 2020 to 2023.
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