Education Funding

Courtesy Council of Great City Schools

Without a massive bailout from the federal government, the nation’s largest school districts face an “educational catastrophe,” according to a letter signed by Tulsa and Oklahoma City’s superintendents.

The letter, sent via the Council of Great City Schools, says that districts like Tulsa and Oklahoma City are facing massive budget shortfalls and educating kids will be difficult moving forward. It was signed by 62 superintendents.

ok.gov/sde/superintendent

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says she wants to use federal stimulus funds earmarked for education to boost internet connectivity for Oklahoma students.

"Our primary focus is on connectivity and our ability to close the digital divide," Hofmeister said Thursday.

The issue has been highlighted by the challenges districts face as they close out the school year conducting distance learning. Almost a quarter of the state’s students don’t have access to home internet.

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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has drawn the ire of the state’s school leaders after floating an idea to use $40 million in block grants from the federal CARES Act to pay for private school scholarships.

Joshua Hoehne / Unsplash

With Oklahoma's state budget facing billions of dollars in shortfalls over the next two years, education cuts are likely.

Governor Kevin Stitt said Monday that if the state's education system is held harmless, it will exacerbate cuts for other agencies statewide. So, lawmakers will have to yet again look at slashing education budgets.

Cuts have long plagued the state's education system, which still hasn't returned to pre-2008 recession funding.

Oklahoma’s education system will receive $332 million from the recently passed federal stimulus bill in response to COVID-19.

The state’s K-12 schools are slated to receive $156.9 million while higher education institutions will receive $137.2 million. The remaining $37 million will go into an emergency grant fund.

Where money will go for common education schools has not been released. However, the U.S. Department of Education announced how the higher ed stimulus would be allocated on Thursday.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma tribes will pay the state an estimated $13 million dollars in Class III gaming money next Thursday. Since tribes believe the compacts auto-renewed at the start of the year – they are going to continue to remit their gaming funds like they have been for the past 15 years.

But the state isn’t going to put that money directly into education – the largest recipient of gaming money – even though it’s supposed to, under state law.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Governor Kevin Stitt gave his second State of the State Address today before a joint session of the State House and Senate for the 58th Oklahoma Legislature.

In a case with potentially profound implications, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority seemed ready to invalidate a provision of the Montana state constitution that bars aid to religious schools. A decision like that would work a sea change in constitutional law, significantly removing the longstanding high wall of separation between church and state.

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Ryan LaCroix / KOSU

This session was far less contentious than last session in part because lawmakers were working with a budget surplus. Oklahoma teachers didn’t stage any walkouts, but education was still a dominant topic.

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