OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor of Oklahoma on Tuesday promised to sign a measure he said would “level the playing field” between property-poor and property-poor urban and suburban school districts.
âIt is safe to say that I will sign this bill,â said Governor Kevin Stitt of the Redbud School Funding Act.
Stitt’s signing on Senate Bill 229 could end a dispute between the State Board of Education, the state’s Public Charter School Association and nearly 200 school districts, which have sued the council’s controversial settlement with the association of charter schools. This regulation, which has infuriated some districts, would give charter schools access to new sources of local and state revenue.
Hours after lawmakers sent the measure to the governor on Monday, the State Board of Education held a special meeting and unanimously voted to quash its regulation subject to the Public Charter School Association rejecting its original lawsuit and let Stitt sign the measure into law.
Senate Bill 229 would allocate approximately $ 38.5 million per year in medical marijuana revenue to help poorly owned traditional school districts and brick-and-mortar charter schools with the associated costs. maintenance and construction of school buildings and other infrastructure. The money would be used to finance the state buildings equalization fund for the first time in history.
A total of 310 of 510 traditional school districts and 25 charter schools are expected to benefit, according to a legislative tax analysis.
Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said the move was “a monumental bill in the making for years.”
He said Oklahoma was one of only four states that did not provide public funding to help schools meet capital needs, and that the state had notable gaps in equity in the student access to quality and safe buildings, modern technologies and transport.
âEvery student in Oklahoma deserves schools that are clean, safe, well maintained, and conducive to learning,â Hime said. “This bill is a critical investment for the children of Oklahoma and their success.”
Joy Hofmeister, the state superintendent of public education, said the measure was long overdue.
âThis is a victory for thousands of Oklahoma schoolchildren who are educated in public charter schools and over 300 traditional school districts,â said Hofmeister.
The Oklahoma Public Charter School Association has said that since charter schools have no local revenue streams, they have been chronically underfunded for two decades. The organization sued the state in 2017.
The group said as part of the legislative agreement, school districts would also receive enough funding to bring their share of construction and county funds up to the state average without affecting local funding.
“Supporters of the public charter have long worked for equitable funding that is fair for all students in public schools, and we see this bill as a win-win solution,” said Chris Brewster, president of the association. charter schools. âPublic charters, just like traditional districts, are an important part of our state’s public education system, and we are proud to help craft a solution that lifts all public schools and the students we let’s serve.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI newspapers and websites. Contact her at [email protected]