Oklahoma schools have been struggling financially along with the economy in recent years, but school districts throughout the state will soon be receiving $119 million in federal funding.
The funding was made possible through the federal Education Jobs act, in which school districts will receive a certain amount of money as determined through the state’s school funding formula. The districts can use that money towards teachers’ salaries, benefits and support.
According to State Superintendent Sandy Garrett in a press release, the money doesn’t have to be used this fiscal year, but it must be used by September 30, 2012.
Three districts in Woodward County will be receiving money.
After hearing that the Woodward school district would be receiving $445,036, Superintendent Tim Merchant said he is extremely pleased with the amount.
“I was guessing at an amount we would receive, but this is more than expected and I am very excited about,” Merchant said.
He said when the money comes in, it will be used towards salaries of the current teachers. But, he said he hasn’t received any information on when and how Woodward schools will receive the money.
“We are hoping the funding levels will stay even with the allocation for the year,” Merchant said, noting they want a carryover to work towards next year without having to make additional cuts in staff.
However, Merchant described the money as a “temporary fix.”
The money will help the school district fill some holes, he said.
“The money is a welcoming surprise, but it is also frustrating at the same time,” Merchant said. “We can’t keep operating on temporary fixes, because that destroys goals and long term directions of the school.”
Superintendent Terry Kellner said its outstanding that Mooreland will be receiving $111,302.
“Thank goodness the federal government had stimulus money available,” Kellner said.
Before the announcement of the additional federal funding, Kellner described schools as being in “really really big trouble, but now they are just in trouble.”
“We are going to keep as much as possible, because next year will be worse,” he said.
According to Kellner, Mooreland schools have received almost half a million dollars in the last 2 years through funds and grants which are becoming a large portion of the budget.
“The money we have received as been a godsend, because without it we would be beyond bare bones,” Kellner said.
Even with the help, Kellner said this was the first year in his 18 years with the district that schools weren't able to buy supplies or textbooks for the teachers.
But he remained optimistic, saying “Buying books and supplies for the teachers might be possible again in the future."
"(And) for the time being receiving this money will make my job easier,” Kellner said.
What money Mooreland Schools does spend from the federal funding this year will be "for teachers' salaries," he said.
However, he told The News Wednesday that the school is not planning to hire any additional teachers to accommodate the district's increase in student population this year, "because we already have the teacher and class sizes already worked out."
“I am pleased and delighted to be receiving $63,594,” Sharon-Mutual Superintendent Emma Sidders said.
According to Sidders, this funding allowed the Sharon-Mutual school board to hire half-day teachers and increase hours of teacher aids during their meeting Monday.
“With that being accomplished, we will use this money towards their salaries as well as other staff members' salaries,” she said.
In addition, she said, "if we are allowed it might be used towards textbooks and equipment."
The school also plans on saving some of it since it doesn’t have to be spent right away, Sidders said.
“We are going wait and see what the future holds, and then use the money where needed,” she said.