Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 11, 2012

Hulbert Schools hit with budget crunch

HULBERT — Hulbert Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Dewoody told members of the school board during Monday’s meeting that the rural district is “still in a financial bind.”

Dewoody, during her superintendent’s report, said auditors’ estimate of needs report has been received, and the projected budget for the 2012-2013 school year is $4,225,045.44. The school will likely require more than the estimate to operate, said Dewoody.

“For the past three years, I’ve been hearing about school funding, especially in Oklahoma, and that it’s on a cliff and it’s about to fall off. Well, this is the fall-off year,” she said. “So unless something happens to give us an upward trend, we’re going to continue to [be faced with budget problems].”

Without any carryover or stimulus money, the school district will have to operate on a very tight budget.

“[The auditors are] saying we can appropriate $4,225,045.44, and when we really add up what it is going to cost us all year for all of our salaries, after-school programs  – even though we get reimbursed by 21st Century, which still is in our budget – the bus payment, the roof payment every month, our needs are actually closer to $5 million,” said Dewoody. “In fact, probably a little over $5 million.”

Dewoody said an underlying positive is that the auditors do not include grant monies the school receives through the 21st Century or Physical Education Program, ad valorem taxes, or impact state aid.

“Our auditors look at what money is available to us and they only estimate that money at 90 percent. So whether it’s your state aid or your ad valorem or whatever, they won’t let you count the whole amount as your estimate because something might happen and you won’t have that money,” Dewoody said. “They don’t take into account every program we get, like the 21st Century or PEP grant.  Even at that, we’re going to be on a very tight budget. Everything we spend will have to be paid for by one of our grants, or we just can’t do it this year. I’ve been talking to the auditors, trying to figure out a rosier picture, but I think all schools will be in the same shape.”

Dewoody said the auditors told her “make a budget that would fit within this amount,” and that she should ask the board for a budget increase when federal funds are received.

“As we get our federal monies in, I’ll be asking for an increase, and I’ll show proof I have the federal money that allows me to do that,” she said.

“That’s how we’ll have to operate the rest of the year. They’re called 307s, and we’ve done one before. Last year we did three.”

In other action, the board approved fundraiser requests and the formation of a softball booster club for the junior and senior high school teams; and appointed members to a professional development/safe and healthy school committee.

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