May 16, 2014

Increase May Have Limited Impact on Per-Pupil Funding

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Nate Robson

Nate Robson

EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
May 16, 2014

Oklahoma could add $80 million to K-12 education funding in a budget deal announced by Gov. Mary Fallin Friday, but it’s unclear how it will impact Oklahoma’s per-pupil funding levels.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 calls for adding $40 million to cover health insurance costs for school employees, and another $40 million for the state’s funding formula, according to the state Department of Education. That formula is used to allocate money to districts to pay for teachers, textbooks, transportation and other costs.

If the budget were approved by the Legislature, adding $80 million would be a 3.3 percent increase from the state Department of Education’s current $2.4 billion budget.

Oklahoma ranked third-to-last nationally in per pupil funding, and last in the seven-state region in 2010-2011, according to the most recent data available at the National Center for Education Statistics.

That ranking likely would not change under the proposed budget, especially if enrollment continues to grow as expected.

Oklahoma currently has an estimated 670,890 students.

Variables that will impact per-pupil funding include how much student enrollment increases, how much the cost of benefits increase, any changes in state and local district funding levels, and whether the Legislature approves separate legislation increasing education funding.

The state does have a pending bill in the Legislature that would add $600 million to education over 10 years if the state hits goals for tax revenue growth.

That bill, HB 2642, is in a conference committee meant to iron out the differences in the Senate and House bills. The committee’s deadline to send a bill to the governor is May 30.

Friday’s budget proposal does not include that additional funding. If the legislation were to pass, the state would have to recalculate the proposed budget.

Nate Robson can be reached at nrobson@oklahomawatch.org

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