During the oil boom, state departments thrived off increased tax money and schools received more than enough funding. However, during the economic downturn, states that depended too heavily on oil taxes, such as Oklahoma, struggle to fund their education systems. Meanwhile, North Dakota students will see little to no change in their classrooms thanks to the high taxes paid by oil companies during the boom and savings in a fund specifically designated for public education.
North Dakota vs. Ohio’s Education System
According to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, the reason Oklahoma school systems suffer during the oil bust and North Dakota schools are not boils down to how states decided to tax oil and gas producers a few years back.
The tax revenue in Oklahoma was as low as one percent for horizontal wells, while the Bakken was taxed around 11.5 percent. While North Dakota and Texas put significant amounts of tax revenue aside for education, Oklahoma did not have the surplus to follow suit.
North Dakota spending per pupil increased 25 percent between 2008 and 2016, making it the largest growth in the country. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s allocation per student fell by 24 percent in the same period, the largest drop in the nation.
What this means for Oklahoma students and teachers.
Some schools in the state will be reducing the number of school days to four days a week. Teachers will be laid off. Class sizes will grow to absorb students from teachers no longer in positions at those schools. Budgets for gifted and special needs will be reduced. Athletic, foreign language, technology and other extra-curricular or elective budgets, will be either eliminated or cut.