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Muskogee Public Schools slashes $1 million from the district's budget

Muskogee Public Schools is slashing another $1 million because they can’t wait for the legislature to solve the financial problem. (KTUL)

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (KTUL) -- Another Oklahoma school district is cutting their budget because of uncertainty when it comes to state funding.

Muskogee Public Schools is slashing another $1 million because they can’t wait for the legislature to solve the financial problem.

Superintendent Mike Garde said they don’t have enough reserve cash on hand, so they can’t go into the next school year without more cuts.

He said they must be careful, in case more state cuts are coming.

Next year, seventh and eighth graders won’t be in class at their Benjamin Franklin STEM school because that part of the program is being terminated.

That move accounts for about $200,000 in savings, but it’s a popular program that will be missed.

The staff said it hurts to cut something that kids, parents and teachers all want to continue.

Garde said it’s frustrating.

"We don’t fund it where we can assure our students are getting a cutting-edge education that prepares them for the 21st century, because were living on thin dollars in public education," said Garde.

Other cuts will include a hiring freeze, lost coaching positions and a review of administrative staffing.

Garde said the legislature needs to find a backbone and fix things, because they’ve been struggling with the same financial issues since 2008.

He added that over time, morale is being affected because the people who work in education don’t seem to be valued by the state.

Right now, the district is only short two secondary math teachers, but they are struggling to hang on to their staff.

Departures are always a threat, because teachers can cross the state line and get a $10,000 raise.

Garde said he’s been encouraged by the statements and actions of some of our new state lawmakers, but he’s anxious to see some positive results that will stabilize school funding.

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