Oklahoma public and charter schools will get $2.04 billion in state aid next year, but many districts will see a decline in their allocations. The state provides funding to local schools based on a complex formula that considers enrollment growth or decline, and the amount of local funds available through the district’s property tax.

State school superintendent Sandy Garrett said last week that 325 school districts will get more money but 224 will get less. She said 177 districts would see state allocations drop because their enrollments declined.

Many of the districts that get increases will do so because the state included teacher retirement funding into its allocation formula, Garrett said.

“Basically, this year we had level funding for schools,” she said.

“While public school enrollment has increased and the higher costs for fuel, utilities, and food are going to be a grave challenge for many school districts, the Legislature did not appropriate additional funding for school operations for the 2008-2009 school year,” Garrett told the Oklahoma Board of Education.

She said increasing operational costs could require supplemental funding by the Legislature in the future.

Assistant superintendent James White said that statewide fuel costs for school buses in the upcoming school year are estimated at $58 million. He said local districts will receive less than half that for transportation needs, including vehicle maintenance.

“Bus transportation is not mandated in the state of Oklahoma, but it’s certainly expected by families,” Garrett said. “Maybe T. Boone Pickens will figure out how to run these buses by wind.” she added, referring to the billionaire oilman and wind-power proponent.

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