We all have those people who say, ‘Well, back in my day…’ and then begin to tell you how it was in the good old days or the bad old days. We are working in a unique time and place in Oklahoma history; I believe we have probably seen more changes to budget allocations in the past three years than probably in any three-year period of history. This has truly been a wild ride and not in a fun way.
As of writing this article, we have just learned that the Senate budget is probably going to be the budget for FY 18 and that no one is happy. This budget brings a decline in the amount of State Aid, but we should continue to see improvement in the chargeables. As we move forward into the new fiscal year, it is very important that our budgets be specific and nailed down. This economic downturn is not over yet and could hold on.
The State Aid allocations for the coming year will be out in July, and as it always happens, the numbers will look much better than expected. A strong word of caution this year: fewer students are charged against the State Aid formula for the initial allocations than will be charged at mid-term. This gives the false impression that funding actually went up when it in fact decreased.
We will have a full year estimation sometime in the next two weeks, but our strong suggestion is to start where you are right now in your State Aid, and budget downward $70. If you are in a charter school, this will be different that in a traditional district due to chargeables. We will get to mid-term next year, and we will start this cycle again. Please be overly cautious as you build your budgets.
Take some time, and don’t rush this budget process. We could see a change in the revenue due to legal action or some other factor. If you need help building your budget, we are here to assist. The most important thing in trying situations is to make sure that you get away from the problem for a while and have time to think. Don’t try to solve this problem the night before a board meeting, and don’t spend weeks obsessing. Get it done, and leave it alone until you have to change something. In other words, enjoy this summer and enjoy your family and friends.