The Ardmore City Schools Board of Education received news of the most recent budget woes across the state during its regular meeting on Tuesday.
Kelly Shannon, ACS director of finance, provided the board with several documents detailing the cuts and projections for the year. This month’s report echoed the same tone of uncertainty that has come to define funding discussions in Oklahoma school districts.
“I wish I could say I have a definite answer but I don’t,” Shannon said, explaining that the exact reduction won’t be known until June, but recent state aid payment shortages point toward an impending cut.
Shannon said the district was shorted $66,767 in its April payment last week. The district was shorted $72,329 in its March state aid payment. The shortages, which amount to $139,096, stem from a $36.3 million cash flow shortage, which resulted in less collections in the Education Reform Revolving Fund, the Common Education Technology Fund, the Mineral Leasing Fund, the OK Lottery Fund and the General Revenue failure.
 With the mid-term allocation cut to state aid, which amounted to $213,679, the total reduction in funds comes to $352,775.
The shortages are not “true cuts,” as the state hasn’t officially re-allocated the state aid funding. Shannon said the state is likely holding off to see what funds are available in the accounts before allocating the money each month. With April expected to bring in more funds from tax season, Shannon said many districts are hoping the month’s collections can serve as a bit of a rebound. A clearer picture of the reductions likely won’t be known until June, Shannon said.
“I don’t really expect them to issue true final allocation until June,” she said. “To say our cut is going to be exactly what it re-allocates isn’t known. It may be a bit off.”
Shannon said she has set aside some funds to offset the shortages in funding, adding an additional $100,000 to absorb the slashes. As of now, Shannon said the district has $400,000 set aside.
Ardmore City Schools has, traditionally, used the general fund carryover as a litmus test for the district financially. With current projections, the district will have a $1.3 million carryover for FY 17, which is in line with the $1 million carryover ACS has historically maintained. For FY 18, however, the carryover dips to $277,744. That number is with no state aid factor considered, meaning even a cut of only 1 percent would eliminate any carryover.
Shannon said the Oklahoma State School Boards Association has recommended districts use an estimated state aid factor of $2,976.67 per Weighted Average Daily Membership in planning, which represents a 2.42 percent cut since December. Shannon said the state aid factor hasn’t fallen below $3,000 since 2007.
“We’re progressing 10 years behind,” she said. “It’s pretty significant.”