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State Department of Education to Ask for $3.2B Budget for FY2022

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The Oklahoma State Department of Education will ask lawmakers for just under $3.2 billion for fiscal year 2022. 

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the agency is obligated to make a budget request that accurately reflects the needs of students, but the state’s finances are a factor.

"We actually are asking for not even what we asked for last year, but less," Hofmeister said.

The education request represents a total increase of almost $191 million from this year’s appropriation but is about $107 million less than the agency’s last budget request.

The ask includes $18 million to start a three-year process of hiring more than 1,000 school counselors to hit a ratio of 250 students to one counselor. SDE Chief of Government Affairs Carolyn Thompson said going forward, students — especially those of color — will be dealing with pandemic impacts on their families ranging from job losses to toxic stress that affects their brain development.

"Now, it is even more important to pursue funding for school counselors to support students as often, the school district and students’ teachers bear the burden of supporting those students when they come to school with those struggles," Thompson said.

The request includes an additional $27.6 million to buy textbooks. Thompson said though the legislature usually includes a $33 million line item for new books, sometimes they cost significantly more.

"And it just so happens that this year in what we expect to be a tough budget year would be a high year with the purchase of science textbooks projected at $60.6 million," Thompson said.

The education budget request also includes a $1 million current year supplemental appropriation to overhaul a records system known as the WAVE, which has security features older than high school seniors.

"The WAVE houses an estimated 2.5 million points of personally identifiable information roughly 1.25 million unique student records," Thompson said.

The State Board of Education approved the budget request at its meeting on Thursday.

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