Lawton schools OK financially, despite cuts
The bad news is that Lawton Public Schools has continued to see cuts in local and state revenue. The good news, school officials say, is that they expect to be able to weather the reductions not only the rest of this fiscal year but also next year.
Diane Branstetter, chief financial officer for the school district, presented a mid-year budget update to the Lawton Board of Education at its regular meeting Thursday. She noted revenues including property taxes, motor vehicles taxes and state land earnings are projected to decline $1.93 million this year compared to the last fiscal year. However, those revenues are still almost $1.56 million higher than what the school district budgeted.
State cuts anticipated
That should be enough to offset an expected 3 percent cut in basic state aid, she said. The state Department of Education has withheld about $250,000 from Lawton's aid the first two months of the year, Branstetter said, and schools have been told to plan for cuts of 2, 4 and 6 percent the rest of this year and next.
She said a 3 percent cut would amount to about $1.5 million, which would leave the district with about $7 million in its revenue shortfall account, which was bolstered by almost $600,000 from restored state cuts and a $144,000 midyear adjustment in state aid.
"It looks like we're going to be pretty stable by the time we get to June 30 (the end of the fiscal year)," she said.
The district expects to lose $1.8 million in state aid next year because of enrollment declines, she said, and a further cut of 3 percent in state aid would reduce funding by more than $2 million. Despite that, with the revenue shortfall account the district should be able to weather the reductions.
"I believe that the district has prepared well," she said. "I think we're in good shape."
Superintendent Tom Deighan told the board that the financial strength of the district is the result of careful attention to finances and decisions the district has made over the past several years.
"We didn't receive any extra money," he said. "We just budgeted reasonably."