To help ease the burden facing local schools officials with First National Bank in Vinita, Grove and Cleora donated a culmination of more than $50,000 to several Grand Lake area schools earlier this fall.

Deep budget cuts have forced some schools across Oklahoma to cut back to a 4-day school week, increase class size, cut arts and sports programs, revamp bus routes and deeply rely on their individual communities.

School districts, including Grove, Cleora, Turkey Ford, Jay, Colcord, Ketchum, Vinita, Adair, Welch and Bluejacket were all the beneficiaries of First National Bank’s financial gift.

“The need is great in all of our schools,” said Julie Dean, First National Senior Vice President Marketing/Product Development. “We saw a need and we wanted to help all of our neighboring schools.”

Choosing one school was not an option. We depend on our schools to teach our children and if they lack resources, we all are shortchanged, she said.

The financial boost will impact approximately 7,000 students within the Grand Lake area.

“Most of our employees grew up here, went to school in this area and now we have our children and grandchildren attending the same schools,” said Mark Londagin, First National Bank Executive Vice-President and Business Development.

It may sound cliché, but our children are our future and our first propriety should be making sure they have the top educational tools, he said.

Since 2008, Oklahoma has cut per-pupil higher education funding by over one-third, according to a Center for Budget and Policy Priorities national survey. State funding per pupil has declined by $3,294, the survey states.