One of the most important times of the year for school finance is upon us. As you prepare for the October 1st reports, we need to mention a few items that should be checked in your student numbers:
If you want to be accurate in your predictive models, it is important to have accurate grade level count and weights. A comparison between the previous three years and this year will be helpful in predicting your mid-term results. The goal here is not to just collect numbers; it’s to try to build a trend line for your district. The difference in State Aid gains per district that were gaining students and districts that lost students was almost a $25 difference per WADM. It is important to keep track of the changes.
One other item that you might want to explore is the amount of ad valorem that can be expected this year versus last year’s allocation. We have been averaging almost a 4% growth annually since 2011. That doesn’t mean everyone is growing at the same rate. If your district is the beneficiary of a large growth in ad valorem, it is important to know if that was a real property, a personal property or a utility property growth. If it was a real property growth, that is traditionally a more stable form of revenue that will not depreciate, but the other two forms of growth may strongly recede in value over the years.
We all have those people who say, ‘Well, back in my day…’ and then begin to tell you how it was in the good old days or the bad old days. We are working in a unique time and place in Oklahoma history; I believe we have probably seen more changes to budget allocations in the past three years than probably in any three-year period of history. This has truly been a wild ride and not in a fun way.