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Local News

January 13, 2013

Financial strain impacts Duncan School District

DUNCAN — As a result of decreased gross production, the Duncan School District is feeling some financial strain.

The school district is midway through the fiscal year, and while finances started the fiscal year out well, the district, along with other school districts throughout Oklahoma, are all facing a funding shortfall.

“Gross production is down across the state,” Rodney Calhoun, Duncan Public School assistant superintendent of finances, said. “It’s kind of nerve wracking. The next six months, we’ll be pinching pennies.”

Gross production is money school districts receive from gas, oil and natural gas production. Gross production makes up part of the income a school district has for various expenditures, including staff salaries.

Gross production is also a chargeable for the school district, and chargeables include school land earnings.

Calhoun said the decline in gross production is just another step in a series of financial hiccups for Oklahoma school districts in the past few years.

“It’s been an ongoing battle with finances,” Calhoun said.

“This year, we have more student than we’ve had in a long time.”

The decreased gross production leaves Duncan Public Schools about $500,000 less than it was this time last year, he said. Whenever school districts experience a decrease in income, as with gross production, the Oklahoma State Department of Education is supposed to help reimburse school districts.

Calhoun said this usually comes through the midterm adjustment, which provides the State Department with an opportunity to re-evaluate how much money a school district receives from the state.

Despite the potential of receiving money from the state, Calhoun isn’t ready to breath easy. Instead, he’s waiting to see if an when that money would arrive for the school district.

“Everything makes me nervous when it comes to money,” Calhoun said. “I want to see the kids have the things they need, including the number of teachers.”

He said the administrative staff for Duncan Public Schools, including Superintendent Sherry Labyer, has discussed the shortage, but no action is being taken at this point. He said there are plenty of ways for the school district to cut expenditures if thing reach that point.

“We’re waiting to see what the State Department does before we have a plan,” Calhoun said. “We have to be smart about what we’re spending our money on. Dr. Labyer has been good on that for the last five years.”

Calhoun said the recession, which began in 2008, has caused the school district to feel financial strain every year. And while finances will continue to be tight, Calhoun said things usually have a way of working out for Duncan Public Schools.

“We always come out on top,” he said.

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