Summer vacation is only just starting for schools in the area, but Administrators, financial officers and chief counselors are already working hard to prepare for what lies ahead in August.
In a recent letter to parents, Sapulpa Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Burr relays how the current state budget shortfall is hitting Oklahoma education in a very real way.
“This has been the most difficult year I’ve ever spent while working to help Oklahoma and our students. I know many of you feel the same way,” Burr says.
In the below video, Superintendent Burr outlines the state of the district, both in financial matters and academics. The full letter is excerpted below the video. You can read the full letter from May 1st, and an additional letter from Burr on the SPS website.
Dear Fellow Chieftains,
Recently, the SPS Board of Education met in a special session to provide direction to our administrative team in carrying out the difficult task of making substantial cuts to our operating budget for 2016-2017. As some of you are aware, the legislative process has not provided additional funding (as of yet) for Oklahoma’s core services, including Education. Anticipated budget losses to all Oklahoma agencies is expected to be $1.3 Billion.
Our District is preparing for a loss in funding of $200 per student. This means that Sapulpa Public Schools will be budgeting $2 Million less than we did in preparation for the current school year.
We were pleased with the feedback from the recent SPS Parent Survey regarding proposed ways to address budget shortfall and much of that feedback attributed to the decisions made by the Board. Many suggestions were proposed but not all well received by parents, therefore, they will be taken under advisement for future consideration if needed.
With 92% of our District expenses attributed to personnel costs – staff reduction is inevitable. Limiting the staff reductions in our classrooms is the Board’s highest priority and this been accomplished in the approved cost reduction plan. These cuts may make it more difficult for the District to meet the goals and objectives we have for our students. We are all aware of that fact, including each of our dedicated board members. Each budget reduction if deemed sufficiently appropriate will be considered for reinstatement at the earliest possible date. We will persevere and do the very best we can for students.
THE GREAT NEWS is that we can accomplish all of the necessary personnel reductions (positions) through the attrition we have already experienced. No lay-off of staff will be required.
One method of adjusting our budget is for our building administrators to work closely together to assemble teaching and instructional staff for each building. They will do so while utilizing the human resources available across the entire district. Therefore, it is quite likely that some of our staff members will be re-located to other buildings to cover certification needs or student population changes. This is unavoidable.
It should be noted that no substantial reductions or elimination in educational programs are targeted as a result of these reductions in personnel (ie; athletics, FFA, fine arts, etc). As a result of the Parent Survey, Sapulpa Public Schools will continue operations using a similar school calendar (as in past years) and a 5 day school week. It is likely that some transportation adjustments may occur to save costs…but these services will not be eliminated.
It is certainly possible that the Legislature can still come to the aid of public education and find additional revenue sources. Should that occur, the Board will revisit the budget at a later date, and make adjustments appropriately. It is also possible that future legislative decisions could lead to further necessary reductions which our Board will adequately address.
I am so proud to work and live in Sapulpa, alongside the outstanding individuals who work for SPS. This has been the most difficult year I’ve ever spent while working to help Oklahoma and our students. I know many of you feel the same way.
Tomorrow is a brighter day. There is light at the end of this long tunnel. Record numbers of Oklahoman’s have registered for election – including nearly 40 educators. The tide will turn as we help it to do so. All Oklahoma schools deserve better funding so that we do not face these circumstances again next year.
If you have questions – please contact me.
Kevin Burr, Superintendent, Sapulpa Public Schools