School officials worried about future funding

By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Area school superintendents planned for the possibility of state funding cuts, but they fear the worst is yet to come.
“We are not worried about the cut in funding this year,” said Aaron McKinney, Tucumcari schools superintendent. “It is the cuts to next year’s and the 2018 funding that has us concerned.”
McKinney said the driving force of the state’s revenue is oil and gas production; if those revenues do not increase in the next few years, school funding will become a serious issue.
His views are shared by others.
“We are OK for the moment, but there is a serious need for the industry to move into the state and produce revenue,” said Colin Taylor, superintendent of San Jon schools.
Taylor said the state needs to bring in additional sources of revenue to prevent future cuts.
“There has to be a push to bring new industry to the state,” Taylor said. “The state cannot sit back and hope for the price of oil to back up to $100 a barrel.”
There is a very real possibility for additional cuts in funding should the state’s revenue not stabilize, said State Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan.
Roch, also a longtime educator, said lawmakers grappled with the funding cuts to education during the recent special session. He said the main objective was to minimize the impact the cut would have on students’ education.
The cut, a 1.5 percent reduction to the State Equalization Guarantee, is among those approved.
Roch said legislators approved the 1.5 percent reduction in unit value, which comes to approximately $61 per unit or $37 million statewide.
“Having to cut educational funding is never a good thing,” Roch said. “The funding cut will have an impact on school districts statewide, but that impact will not be as severe as it could have been.”
Cuts are expected to reduce funding by $221,4437.25 among the four school districts in Quay County.
McKinney said the changes will not have a major impact on school operations this year. He said there is no danger of teachers being laid off or the doors closing.
The cut to Tucumcari’s SEG funding will be reduced by $125,222.92, McKinney said.
“We have been very frugal with spending this past year in anticipation of cuts,” McKinney said. “The real concerns are for the funding in the next few years.”

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