Home > Uncategorized > About the FY15 Budget Request

About the FY15 Budget Request

October 29, 2013

Today, since the State Department of Education has postponed the release of the A-F Report Cards (special board meeting Nov. 6), the most interesting thing about the monthly State Board of Education meeting was the release of the Fiscal Year 2015 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015) budget request. Every year, the SDE’s finance office prepares a proposed budget around this time and presents it to the SBE, which can approve or disapprove it. It then goes to the Legislature, which will chop it up and give them part of what they’re asking for. In reality, it’s a wish list.

That won’t stop us from analyzing the wishes of the SDE, though, will it? You can look at their original budget here. I took their numbers and created my own spreadsheet (because you’d be disappointed if I didn’t).

Activity

FY14

FY15

$ Increase

% Increase

Financial Support of Schools

 $1,837,570,779

 $1,919,019,250

$81,448,471

4.43%

School Performance Incentive

 –

 $16,289,694

 $16,289,694

New Activity

State Aid Formula

 $1,837,570,779

 $1,902,729,556

$65,158,777

3.55%

Instructional Materials

 $33,000,000

 $35,452,248

 $2,452,248

7.43%

Activities Budget – Total

 $507,022,781

 $596,500,385

 $89,477,604

17.65%

Ag in the Classroom

 $38,675

 $39,000

 $325

0.84%

Oklahoma Technical Assistance Center

 $300,000

 $300,000

  –

0.00%

Statewide School Programs (Alt. Ed.)

 $13,727,366

 $17,377,366

 $3,650,000

26.59%

Early Childhood Initiative

 $10,500,000

 $10,500,000

 –

0.00%

Early Intervention Sooner Start

 $14,417,922

 $14,417,922

 –

0.00%

NBPTS Teacher Bonus

 $11,695,000

 $11,695,000

 –

0.00%

Speech Pathologists and Audiologists

 $3,247,350

 $3,247,350

  –

0.00%

Flex Benefit Allowance (Certified)

 $244,347,203

 $275,423,849

 $31,076,646

12.72%

Flex Benefit Allowance (Support)

 $123,433,659

 $151,519,168

 $28,085,509

22.75%

Oklahoma Arts Institute

 $350,000

 $350,000

 –

0.00%

Oklahoma Parents as Teachers

 $1,000,000

 $1,000,000

 –

0.00%

Personal Financial Literacy

 $150,000

 $150,000

 –

0.00%

Reform Implementation

 $43,014,000

 $69,494,990

 $26,480,990

61.56%

ACE Remediation

  $8,000,000

 $21,765,840

 $13,765,840

172.07%

AP Training, Test Fees, AVID, NMSI

 $4,150,000

  $5,743,600

$1,593,600

38.40%

Charter Schools Incentive Fund

 $50,000

 $200,000

 $150,000

300.00%

Oklahoma Academic Standards Implementation

 $564,000

 $564,000

 –  

0.00%

STEM Ready Elementary Schools

$300,000

                $300,000

–  

0.00%

Think Through Math

 $ 1,800,000

  $2,400,000

 $600,000

33.33%

Reading Sufficiency

 $6,500,000

 $16,091,550

 $9,591,550

147.56%

TLE – VAM Development

 $2,000,000

 $2,000,000

 –  

0.00%

3rd Grade Reading Readiness Support Teams

 $500,000

 $500,000

 –  

0.00%

Staff Development for Schools

 $4,250,000

 $4,250,000

 –  

0.00%

Oklahoma Student Information System

 $2,000,000

 $2,000,000

 –  

0.00%

REAC3H Coaches

 $4,250,000

 $5,000,000

 $750,000

17.65%

Testing

 $3,000,000

 $3,000,000

 –  

0.00%

Teach for America

 $2,500,000

 $2,500,000

 –  

0.00%

School Reforms Competitive Grants Pool

 $3,150,000

 $3,150,000

 –  

0.00%

Rural Infant Stimulation Environment (RISE)

 $529,943

 $600,000

 $70,057

13.22%

School Lunch Matching

 $4,960,288

 $5,074,365

 $114,077

2.30%

Teachers Retirement System

 $35,311,375

 $35,311,375

 –

0.00%

Administrative and Support Functions

 $22,426,642

 $24,000,000

$1,573,358

7.02%

Agency Operations

 $11,426,642

 $13,000,000

 $1,573,358

13.77%

Assessments/Testing contracts

 $11,000,000

 $11,000,000

 –

0.00%

TOTAL SDE BUDGET

 $2,400,020,202

 $2,574,971,883

 $174,951,681

7.29%

Categorical expenses are in bold. For example, Financial Support of Schools is a categorical expense, while School Performance Incentive and State Aid Formula are the component expenses. Under the Activities Budget category, I further designated the Reform Implementation expenses using red text.

Starting first with the overall numbers, the SDE is asking for an increase of nearly $175 million to the education budget. This includes an increase of just over $65 million to the funding formula. If the Legislature were to surprise us and give the SDE what they’re asking for, this would be the only money that school districts could use for basic functions, such as salaries, utilities, transportation, and the like. By comparison, this would still be less money in the State Aid Formula than there was in FY08. Yes, seven years later, we still aren’t catching up.

If it were me rubbing the lamp, the first thing I would ask of the genie would be adequate funding for schools. The SDE may be asking for an increase in the money going into the State Aid Formula, but they asked for a much bigger one last year. In fact, they justified the request in the margins by explaining that it was based upon 2010 funding levels and the increase to the number of students enrolled in public schools. Apparently, the need this year seems less severe. Last year, they asked for $234.7 million to be added to the funding formula. The legislature gave $21 million, or about nine percent of what they asked for.

When asked by a board member if teachers could expect a raise based upon anything listed in the budget, Barresi simply responded that she has asked districts to do that on a voluntary basis. Remember, her people continue to try to make this the number one talking point of the entire campaign. She seems to think if she complains enough about administrators, people will forget everything she has done during the last three years.

It would certainly appear that voters with a short attention span are her best bet at winning a second term.

The proposed budget also includes something new labeled School Performance Incentives, which ring in at more than $16 million. Details were vague for this line item, but the SDE did present a slide showing potential high-poverty, high-achieving schools that might qualify for the incentives. I assume this would require new legislation, or at the least, new administrative rules. While I wouldn’t describe this as an expense that supports schools, it does give us a hint about at least one thing we’ll be discussing throughout the Spring.

Overall, the listed increase for Financial Support of Schools is 4.43%. The next category – Instructional Materials – shows an increase of 7.43%. While purchasing textbooks is certainly expensive, and the money allocated to districts hardly covers this expense, is this a more critical need than that of restoring funding to the State Aid Formula (which actually only increases by 3.55%)?

The next category is the Activities Budget, which includes pretty much everything else besides testing and the cost of running the SDE. The SDE proposes an overall increase of $89.5 million for this function (17.65%). Within this area are two major increases – FBA and Reform Implementation.

The Flex Benefit Allowance (FBA) is the cost of providing health insurance for employees. Yesterday, while speaking to a group of first year superintendents from around the state, SDE Chief of Staff Joel Robison made the claim that Obamacare is costing the state more than $59 million in FBA increases. Superintendent Barresi doubled down on that position today:

As is proving to be the case throughout the nation, the consequences of Obamacare are severe and painful. Millions of dollars that could have gone to the classroom instead must be eaten up in insurance costs.

I’m certainly not going to argue that health care is inexpensive. Since we often look at 2008 as a baseline year for funding comparisons, I thought it might be instructive to look at the average monthly FBA cost for employers (school districts) since then.

Year

 Monthly Premium  (FBA)

 Dollar Increase

Percent Increase

2008

 $364.24

2009

 $409.12

 $44.88

12.32%

2010

 $442.80

 $33.68

8.23%

2011

 $449.48

 $6.68

1.51%

2012

 $449.48

  –

0.00%

2013

 $463.99

 $14.51

3.23%

2014

 $484.87

 $20.88

4.50%

 

The FBA increase for next year is the third-highest in the last six years. Notably, the two highest increases were at a time when school district budgets were being hit hardest. So yes, it’s fair to say that next year’s increase places a burden on schools. I’m just not sure if blaming the increase on the Affordable Care Act is entirely accurate.

In case voters have a longer attention span than she had hoped, she could always resort to clamoring over President Obama specifically and liberals in general.

The FBA discussion is a nice distraction. The red meat in this budget is Reform Implementation, for which the SDE asks for an increase of $26.5 million (61.56%). Within this total are six activities that I will discuss separately.

  • ACE Remediation (172.07% increase) – One of two things is happening here. Either the SDE realizes that schools need more money to support remediation programs for high-stakes high school testing or the cut scores for those tests are about to get a whole lot scarier. While I hope it’s the former, what districts really need is access to those funds sooner. It will be at least mid-November at this point before schools get their funding notices.
  • Advanced Placement Training, etc. (38.40% increase) – Restoring support for AP programs would be welcome. Teachers miss the opportunities that used to be more abundant for intensive two-day trainings during the school year, in addition to the summer institutes. Also, as more schools increase the number of AP classes they offer, more students will need help with the test fees.
  • Charter Schools Incentive Fund (300% increase) – I don’t know what charter schools (or prospective ones) have to do to access this money, but the request shows that the SDE wants to see more of them in Oklahoma.
  • Think Through Math (33.33% increase) – Some teachers have found this to be a useful tool for helping students reinforce (or remediate) math skills. Many schools, however, have purchased their own support programs. Time after time, we see that migrating between supplemental programs (or using more than one simultaneously) diminishes the effectiveness of both. This increase in the budget may or may not be something schools want.
  • Reading Sufficiency (147.56% increase) – As with ACE Remediation, we really need to fully fund the programs that have the highest stakes for students. Anyone who visits this blog frequently knows that I’m no fan of the 3rd grade retention law. That said, as long as it is something for which schools have to plan, I’m all for giving them the support structure they will need to be successful. The law is bad for kids. More funding for staff, resources, summer programs, and interventions is the best way to mitigate the damage.
  • REAC3H Coaches (17.65% increase) – Among the stories told today at the SBE meeting was the one about how districts want more and more of the coaches in their schools. I would argue that it depends on whom you ask. I would also point your eyes up a couple of lines to the staff development funding for districts. Last year, these two lines were on even footing. Once again, the SDE is trying to dictate the needs of districts.

I should probably add a few words about some other programs with flat funding requests. Once again, the SDE has missed an opportunity to increase collaboration among some of the most effective teachers in the state by choosing not to increase funding for NBPTS stipends, or restoring scholarships for more teachers to go through that program. Conversely, the money being flushed down the drain for programs such as TLE-VAM development, Teach For America, and Testing could be used to help students, in an ideal world.

To close this extra-long post, I’ll just add what I always say when we’re discussing the disappointing state of school funding in Oklahoma. Schools are being asked to meet more mandates for more students with less money and what can be best described as superficial support from state leaders.

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  1. Jennifer B.
    October 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    FYI–I’m on my usual browser (Safari) but can’t see your entire spreadsheet. The last column is cut off.

    Like

  2. October 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    The budget table seems to cut off the right side on some browsers. Here it is as a PDF: https://okeducationtruths.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/document3.pdf

    Like

  3. Jennifer B.
    October 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks!

    Like

  4. October 30, 2013 at 11:26 am

    This is the other Oklahoma blog you need to subscribe to.

    Like

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