State and local education officials said Wednesday they were looking at how to deal with a budget cut ordered just a day earlier and warned that more reductions could be devastating.

State financial officials ordered a 5 percent reduction in state allocations to all agencies because of a revenue shortfall. On Wednesday, the state Department of Education was recalculating monthly payments to the state’s more than 500 school districts, and education officials weren’t yet sure what would be cut.

Department spokeswoman Shelly Hickman said the financial situation for every district was different, but that “certainly, nobody wants a 5 percent cut anytime.” Because not all funding for common education comes from the state’s general fund, the cut for schools was 2.74 percent, for a total of $4.067 million.

State Superintendent Sandy Garrett expressed concern about the possibility of future cuts, saying they could be “devastating.”

“That downward trend could be a very slippery slope for schools. It could mean a reduction in force. It could mean not observing class size (dictates). ... It is a very scary situation,” she said.

Both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma said they had anticipated the shortfall and made contingency plans that should spare students and faculty for now. But OU President David Boren said if shortfalls increase, that could lead to “disruptive” cuts.

State Treasurer Scott Meacham said Tuesday that preliminary reports indicate collections in July, the first month of the 2010 fiscal year, totaled $336.7 million. That was $120.4 million, or 26.3 percent, less than in July 2008 and $74.4 million, or 18.1 percent, below the estimate.

Revenue was down in all major categories — income taxes, gross production taxes, sales taxes and motor vehicle taxes. Gross production taxes on natural gas were hardest hit, largely due to low prices and a seasonal decline in demand, Meacham said.

The 5 percent cut in August allocations might be just the beginning, if natural gas prices do not increase.

Shawn Hime, the superintendent for Enid Public Schools in Garfield County and a former assistant state superintendent for school finance, said he expects to see an overall cut of 10 percent for the fiscal year. He said that will make it a challenge for many districts, which use most of their budgets on personnel costs.

“It’s definitely not the best news the day before school starts,” Hime said. “But I expected it. We’ve been trying to make as many decisions as possible to protect instruction for students, because we really don’t have any excuses to change what’s happening in the classroom. We have to do everything we can to offer the best education possible.”

He said that among other items, the cost of travel for field trips and athletics is being closely scrutinized.

At OSU, spokesman Gary Shutt said the August cut amounts to about $392,000, which will be absorbed through reduced administrative budgets.

“We’re doing everything we can not to impact the education and services we provide our students,” he said.

Boren said in a statement that the current shortfall will require budget cuts of close to $1 million at OU and that the university had built up a reserve fund in anticipation of the situation.

“This will enable us to get through reductions of this size for the next five or six months without impacting students, faculty or staff,” Boren said. “However, if cuts of this magnitude continue we would need assistance from the state rainy day fund to avoid more disruptive cuts before the fiscal year is over next June 30.”

Smaller state colleges also are affected. Steve Valencia, a spokesman for Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, said that if monthly cuts continued at the 5 percent rate, that would amount to about $500,000 for the fiscal year for the school.

“We will probably have to look at cuts now in instructional areas and academic areas,” he said. “We’re at the point now that we’re going to have to make strategic cuts in our academic programs.”

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