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March 28, 2024 | Budget and Staffing Update

OKCPS Families, 

OKCPS has always worked in creative ways to provide the necessary instruction and resources for our students. As you know, funding for public education has been a long standing hot topic and is often categorized as underfunded. 

State, Federal and Bond Funding

You may remember that districts around the country received federal stimulus dollars, known as Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. ESSER funds helped OKCPS address immediate health and safety needs. OKCPS used ESSER funds to implement new programs, brought on additional staff, and stabilized our budget for the last three years. Unfortunately, ESSER funding will end and all dollars must be spent by June 30th of this year. 

Last year the state legislature approved pay raises for teachers, and our wonderful community approved a historic bond issue for our district. Both events have brought additional dollars to our district, but funds from both were provided for very specific purposes.

What does this mean for OKCPS?

Inflation, continued declining enrollment, the absence of significant additional operating dollars, and the end of federal stimulus dollars have created a complicated financial situation for OKCPS.

To make sure we have the money needed to continue serving our students, OKCPS will take the following steps. 

  • Increase staffing ratios for all grade levels. 

    • Due to stimulus money (ESSER), we have had premium staffing levels for the past three years. This allowed for smaller class sizes and additional staff to provide support to schools. Next school year, families can expect to return to pre-COVID normal levels of staffing and classroom ratios. For example, class sizes might increase by one or two students compared to this school year. 

  • We will evaluate ANY district-level position that becomes vacant to determine if those duties can be reassigned or absorbed by another position and decrease our district department’s operating budget for 2024-2025. 

  • Reevaluate district expenses quarterly to determine if and where additional cuts could be made without unnecessarily impacting services to our students.

We are excited to see several of the programs established with the help of our federal stimulus dollars continue to provide much needed support for our students. Through programs made possible by ESSER, OKCPS has increased services for exceptional students (GT and SPED), and provided additional physical and mental health support for students and staff. As we look forward, we will all be able to watch our district evolve as our bond projects break ground. Fortunately, even through these changes, OKCPS is proud that we still maintain one of the highest average teacher salaries in the state of Oklahoma.  

We knew budget changes were coming, and while this can be a sensitive topic, all of the steps being taken regarding staff and staffing are typical for this time of year. Please rest assured that district leaders have made these decisions with our students’ best interest at heart.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your building principal. Thank you for your continued support of OKCPS.