We’ve had another school year start on a great note and am glad to announce that we have increased in total enrollment again this school year (618). This is my 10th year to serve as Superintendent of Morrison School and have been proud of our School Accomplishments each and every year. Each year can be different and outcomes can vary widely just like any other school in the United States. Every year expectations for “Student Success” increases and our Teachers always answer the call of which we can all be very appreciative of this fact especially when your child takes their next step towards Independence.
One of the biggest issues in Education again this year is funding and teacher salaries. Do we need more money for our schools and do Teachers need a raise, Yes. With expectations the way they are we need more money than ever to make sure “Every Child Succeeds”, it’s just nobody can agree on what “Success” really is, which is frustrating. Funding is always the issue when we want to add more classes or electives for our Students and these funding sources are what I would like to show you.
There are several sources of funding:
1. Local - The best example is Ad Valorem which comes from Property taxes, another is Bond Issue funds and several others. This is our most important funding, “Local Money”. Our District's Valuation has increased $10 million since I began here at Morrison. The funding that our Voters approve in Bonds has been amazing and very helpful. Bond money is how we build new buildings and have resorted to using this money to buy Technology, Textbooks, fix equipment and maintain buildings. If it were not for local support we would not have the school that we do.
This pot of money is very volatile due to Oil/Gas production, in 2014-2015 school year we collected over $304,000 and this last year we only collected $95,607.93, which is a huge difference. One thing for you to know is that as our Local funding increase then the money we receive from the State goes down and visa versa. So when I got here in 2008 we were allocated approximately $1.6 million in State Aid compared to this year $878,931.00 again a huge difference over 10 years. Don’t be to alarmed by this difference because we are supporting ourselves locally which is good and there are lots of schools that are like us who generate more local money and rely less on State money.
Charter and Online schools are where we see lots of State Money being funnelled because they do not have any local money since they do not have set District Borders. Online schools alone last year were allocated over $33 million, which is how much was cut for textbooks from ALL Schools. That one cut had a direct impact every single student and removed money that goes to classrooms.
2. State - Money from the State Department of Education to schools through the Funding Formula, a very complex system to allocate monies to all schools depending on student numbers and many other factors. This is the area that Schools point out have decreased over the last 10 years. If we could use the funding for the 2008-2009 school year and our Total School Enrollment we would have almost $150,000 more from the State. That kind of money could help us So as our State enrollment increase and new schools are added like Online and Charter Schools funding from the State decreases. This is the funding that is cut and for us the last two years alone we have lost $190,000 in State Aid and Textbook money.
I am glad that the State will not be spending as much money on Testing as they have in the past, those yearly numbers are staggering and have not made education better for anyone.
3. Federal - Again several sources but the main ones for Morrison are Title 1 and IDEA funds. These funds have not increased much over the years and are very helpful. For us we normally receive around $200,000/year from these two federal sources. During the Recession we were given approximately $200,000 over a 2 ½ year period and as you can imagine we a huge help.
So as some Legislators (Not Ours) send the message that schools are receiving more money than ever they are talking about all three pots of money and protecting themselves by not focusing on what money they Appropriate, which is the money that is cut. I really wished we could all be on the same page and look at the same information so we can inform our communities correctly.
State Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Broken Arrow calls State funding decreases “Fake News” I don’t want our community members to think that I can’t add and subtract. I know how much we get per student each year from the State Dept and know that it is less, no doubt about it. And I also know that if it were not for Local Money and Bond Issues we would not have the School System that we have, and we have our Community to Thank for that.