Governor Stitt Signs Education and Student Transfer Reforms Into LawThu, 01 Apr 2021 04:29:40 CDT
Governor Kevin Stitt signed what he has described as the "most transformative education reform legislation in Oklahoma history" into law in a ceremony in the Blue Room at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
House Bill 2078 and Senate Bill 783 allow for students to attend public schools that best meet their needs and modernize the funding formula to match enrollment counts more accurately.
“This is a monumental day for education reform in Oklahoma,” said Gov. Stitt. “Education is not one-size-fits-all, and these bills allow parents and students to have the freedom to attend the best public school for them regardless of their ZIP code. Additionally, modernizing the funding formula ensures funding follows the student, not the school. These reforms are vital to getting Oklahoma to be a Top Ten state in education and I am proud of this Republican legislature for its dedication to putting students first.”
“Today is a historic day for education in Oklahoma,” said Secretary of Education Ryan Walters. “We have transformed funding for every single student in the state and empowered them to choose a school that best fits their needs. These two bills will work seamlessly together to have an immediate impact on the way we educate Oklahoma’s students and I commend our state leaders for getting this across the finish line.”
HB 2078, authored by Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew) and Sen. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole), modernizes the education funding formula by basing per-pupil funding on the most recent enrollment data. The previous system gave school districts multiple enrollment figures from which to base their funding, causing some districts to receive state funds for students who are no longer enrolled.
SB 783, authored by Sen. Adam Pugh (R-Edmond), Sen. Kim David (R-Porter) and Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow), amends the Education Open Transfer Act to allow students the ability to transfer to another school district at any time, provided the district has space available.
Just ahead of the signing ceremoney, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays talked with Rep. Hilbert about the two measures- and he told Hays “The Legislature’s goal this session is to pass student-centered, pro-education policies. Due to double-counting, our current funding formula spends $200 million on 55,000 students who do not exist at the districts receiving funding for them. By giving more funding per student in the state aid formula and parents more freedom to choose the public school that best meets their family’s needs, we are moving things in a positive direction for Oklahoma education." You can hear their full conversation about the new laws by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
“Republicans recognize and understand the importance of public education which is why we’ve made historic investments to raise teach pay and increase classroom funding. These measures are solid educational reforms that build upon our investments and work in concert as part of the goal to make sure Oklahoma students are afforded the chance at a quality education. I am proud of Senator Adam Pugh and Senator Zack Taylor for their diligent work to see both of these measures signed into law,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City).
“We delivered, as promised, the shared priority of smart education reform that benefits students in all areas of the state. Under these measures, the historic education investment of three years ago and further education investments to come will go further and benefit more students statewide,” said House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka).
“Oklahoma now moves to the top of the list as friendliest state for military families, because with these open transfer reforms families stationed on military bases now have the opportunity to choose from any of our great public schools to best meet the needs of their students,” said Senator Adam Pugh (R-Edmond).
“The reforms simply ensure education dollars follow the student, while also providing schools flexibility in the use of reserve funds to provide budgeting stability. Maximizing state-aide funding in this way better serves students, parents and teachers,” said Senator Zack Taylor (R-Seminole).
“As a former school board member, I recognize the need to maintain local control, but as a parent, I also understand the desire to ensure children receive the education best suited for their needs. I believe Senate Bill 783 is a good balance of these two needs, and I am immensely grateful to my colleagues in the Legislature for their support of this bill,” said Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow).
However, the Democratic Leadership in the Legislature is not happy with this outcome. In a statement the lawmakers said "“Today, the governor and the Legislature fixed a problem that didn’t exist. Last year 25,000 kids successfully transferred schools. This is a solution looking for a problem.
"The real obstacle public schools face is the lack of legislative interest in fixing the critical issues driving families to seek other schools.
"Touted as ‘parent choice,’ the open transfer bill does not actually improve choices for parents.
"Parents and guardians are still forced to choose between one underfunded school and another underfunded school."
Signing this statement were Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City, Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater and Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa.
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