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State Department Of Education Will Ask Oklahoma Lawmakers For Nearly $3.3B For Fiscal Year 2023

The State Board of Education on Thursday signed off on a nearly $3.3 billion dollar fiscal year 2023 budget request for Oklahoma’s public schools.

Oct. 1 is the deadline for the spending plan to be submitted to lawmakers and the governor, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education is responsible for submitting a budget it believes will meet the needs of the state's K–12 students.

"While it is often challenging to project what those needs will be two years in advance, the following budget is a step in the right direction," said OSDE Legislative Analyst Nat Barrack.

The education department’s requested budget is $96 million more than its FY22 appropriation, and almost $74 million of that increase would go into the statewide funding formula. An additional $18 million is being requested to meet rising health insurance costs for teachers and support staff.

OSDE is also asking for an additional $4 million for administrative support functions. That part of the agency’s budget was cut more than 25% from FY16 to FY17, and it was never restored.

"And this contraction in the agency budget does hamper our abilities to implement legislative changes, [such] as those resulting from the recent open transfer change, House Bill 1775, class size reporting, among others," Barrack said.

HB1775 is a bill that bans the teaching of certain concepts related to race and sex. Republican lawmakers have referred to it as a ban on critical race theory, though the bill does not explicitly refer to that academic theory.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said a lack of administrative staff was also a problem when additional federal funds were made available to help families buy food while school was disrupted by the pandemic. Those families frequently called OSDE to ask where those benefits were.

"And so, that's an example of there are absolutely no dollars here to support that work. It is on us to meet the needs of families regardless," Hofmeister said.

Administration remains less than 0.6% of OSDE’s budget request.

OSDE also plans to put another $5 million toward alternative education programs in FY23, along with increasing funding for the SoonerStart program that helps young children with developmental delays, Reading Sufficiency Act requirements, bonuses for speech pathologists and other programs.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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