By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The state’s aid allocation to the Norman school district is up slightly since July, according to a report given at Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting.
As of December, Norman Public Schools saw an increase of $982,952 from the state’s July allocation, bringing the district’s overall state aid to $35.2 million.
Districts’ allocations from the state are updated in December of each school year based upon finalized numbers of enrolled students and three main calculation criteria: Factors (how much the state pays per student), WADM (weighted average daily membership, or number of students with special needs/factors taken into account) and Chargeables (the district’s revenue from ad valorem, motor vehicle tax, etc.).
Though the numbers were favorable, the trends and bigger picture are less positive, according to NPS Chief Financial Officer Brenda Burkett.
“We were pleased to see this increase, but to put it in perspective, our allocation in July was about $600,000 less than 2011/2012 before we turned around and saw this increase in December. So we netted about $300,000 in increases, but we also gained 443 more students,” Burkett said.
Burkett also reported that, between July and December, the state took $4.60 out of the approximate $3,000 it allocates for each student as a result of a sharp increase in WADM enrollment across the state.
“The fixed state allocations and increased numbers of students forced the drop in allocations. ... There was a lot of discussion in the spring that the budget would be revenue neutral so common (education) would not take a loss in our funding. However, the current factors are a decrease of $5.60 from where we were last year,” Burkett said.
Another stumbling block for the district’s state aid was a small ad valorem growth of 0.3 percent. The good news is it meant less deduction from the state aid allocation. Burkett said the bad news is that slow or small growth stifles the capacity for bond issues and means less funding that voters can direct.
“It baffles me why the state legislature thought this was a good idea,” Superintendent Joe Siano said. “Prior to this change in ad valorem, the philosophy was for growing districts like Norman to slowly take less from the state and more from local revenue, but from an equity standpoint, if we don’t grow locally, then we go back to the state asking for money they don’t have to give.”
Burkett observed that in a matter of years, state aid to NPS has dropped about $3 million and WADM student count has increased by approximately 2000, documenting a steady decline.
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