Tahlequah Public Schools (TPS) received our mid-term state aid allocation in January for $13,098,706.00. The mid-term is calculated in the funding formula on the current year data 2016-17.
The funding formula takes into account a number of factors including the number and types of students in the membership of a school district. The students are assigned weights and those deemed more expensive to educate have higher weights applied. The state funding formula names this the weighted average daily membership (WADM). The WADM, local ad-valorem collections and a district’s net assessed value are some of the factors that help determine state aid for schools.
Before the new school year begins in July or August, schools are provided with an initial state aid allocation based on the previous year’s data. The initial allocation allows schools to pay their bills and develop budgets for the upcoming school year. Tahlequah Public Schools’ initial allocation was $13,209,703.00 at the beginning of this school year. Once the actual 2016-17 data was considered, our mid-term or final state aid was $110,997 less than the initial allocation. State aid accounts for about 56% of our overall $31 million dollar budget.
Tahlequah has had two years of almost identical student membership. In 2015-16, the district’s actual student membership was 3640 students with a WADM of 6012.94. In 2016-17, the district’s actual student membership was 3647 with a WADM of 6012.66. Our hope is that this indicates that our district is demonstrating stable growth in terms of student membership.
The Tahlequah I-35 net assessed valuation is currently $90,022,473.00. The net valuation has grown by about $5 million since the 2015-16 school year when it was $85,874,725.00. The community is growing and local ad-valorem accounts for about 27% of Tahlequah Public Schools’ overall budget.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education informed districts soon after receiving the final state aid allocation that our remaining state aid payments were going to be reduced because the HB 1017 fund is collecting below the estimate. For Tahlequah, this could be a reduction of as much as $800,000 from our state aid. If a revenue failure should occur, then school budgets would be reduced again.
Tahlequah Public Schools developed comprehensive budget cutting measures to prepare for these scenarios. TPS was forced to reduce resources across every area of schooling to prepare for the 2016-17 school year.
Our leaders must commit to funding the state’s core services--especially public education where 90% of Oklahoma children are educated. Our leaders must commit to creating a quality of life in Oklahoma that is worthy of our citizens.