The Duncan Banner

February 15, 2013

Funding tops list of concerns

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN —  

A loss of funding is leaving school districts across the state unsure of what comes next.
Several superintendent meetings took place Wednesday in Oklahoma City, where many local superintendents learned more about what’s happening in the state and national legislature, and what impact the legislature could have on area school districts. Among those attending were Duncan Superintendent Sherry Labyer and Assistant Superintendent Glenda Cobb and also Comanche Superintendent Terry Davidson.
“We had a series of meetings, legislative kinds of meetings,”  Cobb said. “Our concerns are related to the loss of funding.”
Cobb focused on SB-766, which is about intangible property taxes. School districts across the state depend on ad valorem taxes to help with school funding, especially when it comes to bond issues, Cobb said, but this approved bill will be taking some of that funding away.
She said there is no way to predict what kind of impact this could have on Duncan Public Schools, especially with the current bond issue. Construction is set to begin in May.
Both Labyer and Cobb attended a Suburban Schools Committee, at which they were told this would be $110 per weighted ADM.
“That could be in excess of $500,000 for Duncan,” Cobb said. “On the other hand, ad valorem is up in Duncan. We don’t know if that loss will be made up by the increase. We’re cautiously optimistic.”
The impact of SB-766 has also drawn attention of senators themselves, Cobb said.
She said Sen. John Ford, (R) District 29, called for an increase of funding for schools to offset the Senate bill.
“‘Calling for’ and ‘getting’ are two different things,” Cobb said. “It’s nice to know there are people doing things on behalf of Oklahoma children.”
Davidson also kept busy with a meeting Wednesday. Davidson is a member of the Oklahoma Association of School Administration, a board Labyer also serves on.
Davidson said the meeting was routine and revolved mostly around school funding, from funding lost and unfunded mandates.
“The major concern is trying to get funding replaced,” Davidson said. “We have hundreds of deals we’re watching.”
For Cobb and Duncan Public Schools, the watchful eyes are also focusing on what’s happening at the federal level legislature, especially as it applies to sequestration.
“It will be a pinch, but it won’t cripple schools,” Cobb said. “From what Rep. Tom Cole has said, it sounds like there will be cuts. If cuts are across the board, it’s not just Title I.
“We’ll take what comes. As a district, we have made careful and thoughtful decisions. We will have school and do right by the students. It’s getting more difficult to make that statement.”