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Jenks Gazette

Jenks’ Budget Woes Continue

Contributing Writer

Due to growing student enrollment and a shrinking state education budget, the Jenks school district is preparing for changes for the 2017-2018 school year.

While the school district has seen significant student growth, it “is not getting additional funding to compensate for the rising enrollment,” says Cody Way, Jenks chief financial officer.

Because of this, the district is seeing growing classroom sizes, says Superintendent Dr. Stacey Butterfield.

Over the past four years, JPS has seen a total of $6 million cut from its annual budget. The district’s greatest yearly expense was instruction benefits, which doubled from about $8 million in 2011-2012 to $16 million in 2016-2017, which was mostly due to rising health insurance costs, notes Butterfield. In comparison, teacher salaries only increased from $50 million to about $52 million in those six years.

In addition, Rob Loeber, director of communications, says several programs are expected to be reduced or eliminated, such as administrative and teaching personnel, the Superintendent Scholars Program, Cherokee Tag Allocation and the Community Education Elementary Summer School.

Even though there is increasing financial pressure, Loeber says there is an assumption that Jenks isn’t suffering because of all the programs they do keep. Butterfield credits the Jenks Public School Foundation for providing consistent financial support, allowing many of Jenks’ programs—Jenks Wild environmental camp, Junior Achievement’s BizTown, arts programs and the STEM learning labs—to remain unaffected by budgetary issues.

In addition, for the upcoming school year, new STEM labs will open at Northwest Elementary and West Intermediate.

For Jenks schools, local support is vital, especially to sustain building operations. Way says ad valorem, or property tax, makes up over 40 percent of the district’s revenue for building operations. Because state and federal funds do not supply revenue for Jenks’ building funds, the need for funding falls largely on local revenue, which includes bond issues.

Acknowledging the necessity of bond issues in education, Butterfield says, “Bond issues do not pay for teacher salaries. Bond issues build buildings.”

Later this year, the Jenks Board of Education will decide whether to proceed with a February 2018 bond vote.

As the new school year gets underway, parents and students should be alert to various construction projects going on in the district and other campus changes.

There will be new pick-up and drop-off times involving West Intermediate’s new parking lot. The new Central High School Dining Hall will be open, and construction is currently taking place at the High School’s buildings 5 and 6 and at the football stadium.

Updated 07-25-2017

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