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Budget outlook dim for schools

"We started this year with a $6.3 million carryover. Without a change to the projected reduction, what we will be looking at next year is $2.3 million ... That is just incredibly thin."
TOM DEIGHAN
LAWTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT

Projected cuts of state aid to the Lawton Public Schools district in the 2016-2017 school year are expected to exceed $3.4 million by June, Superintendent Tom Deighan told the Lawton Board of Education Thursday night. 

After a huge funding cut in 2008, each year the district has to guess what amount of state funds are going to be cut so the district can build a budget, which is required by law, Deighan said. "We have decided it is the new normal."

A cut was discovered just before spring break, when Diana Branstetter, LPS Financial Officer, informed him that the state aid payment was $500,000 short. 

The year to date reduction through April is $1,729,517. The anticipated further reduction for May and June is $1,673,556 for a total projected reduction through the end of the school year of approximately $3.4 million, Deighan said. 

"We started this year with a $6.3 million carryover. Without a change to the projected reduction what we will be looking at next year is $2.3 million ... that is just incredibly thin," he said. "We do believe we will be in good shape for next year ... we haven't added any new requirements for staffing. But if we are going to have any more years like this ... we are going to have to figure how we are going to manage this."

Deighan gave kudos to his staff including the principals of each school for helping to keep costs down and coming up with helpful solutions. 

But "we will have to start the new year with a new mindset entirely  one which actively considers the adjustments and options for the 2018-2019  school year," he said. 

Board members present Thursday evening included President Dr. Lori Bridges and members Carla Clodfelter, Patty Neuwirth and Eric Sharum

Freedom Elementary architectural report 

Jason Ridings of Boynton Williams & Associates Architect briefed the board that there are still 32 issues that need to be corrected or repaired on the  Freedom Elementary School. The issues fall into three categories of work  there is one issue that is incomplete, 13 issues that are nonconforming and 18 that are work in progress. 

Ridings briefed the board as to some of the details of the major issues, including the AMX Schoolview Unified Campus which is supposed to handle paging, intercoms, video distribution and other functions.  Both AMX and LPS have found a number of problems with the AMX installation. BWA and LPS has developed a three-part strategy to fix it involving an entire reevaluation of the system, on-site troubleshooting or retraining of the Freedom Elementary staff on using the system.

When he met with the board in February, Ridings said he was sure that the punch list would be also be done by tax day  April 18  but not much progress has occurred 

After Ridings' briefing, the board decided to turn the issue over to legal to determine what their next step will be.

Clarifying the Oklahoma Sports Network issue and rebuttal

Bridges read a statement addressing "some confusion in the community about the district's affiliation with Oklahoma Sports Network (OSN) and OSN's relationship to board member Eric Sharum."

The Lawton Constitution

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