Oklahomans who have been told repeatedly that Oklahoma’s schools are underfunded may be very surprised to learn that the schools, in fact, have “savings accounts” that are full of cash sitting idle.
That’s one of the many things you’ll discover using OCPA’s new education finance data tool. The data, which were simply downloaded from the website of the Oklahoma State Department of Education, were compiled from the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS). Would you believe that the schools’ largest revenue source for the 2015 school year was cash not spent in the prior year?
The schools need to explain how they can be sitting on nearly $1.9 billion of unencumbered cash—cash that is not promised to any obligation currently—that they did not expend during the prior school year.
In the 2015 school year, the difference between revenues and expenditures was a staggering 23.1 percent. This is the amount of revenues unspent, which explains how you get to such huge cash-forward balances.
The OCPA data tool also exposes another major inefficiency of the public K-12 establishment. The second and third largest expenses by function, which between them total nearly half of the amount spent on instruction, are “debt service” and “operation of buildings.”
We continually hear about needing more money for teachers, but somehow the construction of expensive new buildings seems to continue unabated by diverting large amounts of education funding.
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