The City Sentinel Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY — School choice advocates recently praised the Oklahoma Legislature for advancing two landmark education bills that, taken together, empower parents and increase accountability in public schools.
In late March, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 783 by a vote of 65-30. Senate Bill 783 allows for true and transparent open transfers within the public school system and provides that school districts must accept transfer students unless they are at or over capacity. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Kevin Stitt for his consideration.
“As a parent, if you believe there is a better option for educating your child, you should have the right to pursue that option,” said ChoiceMatters Executive Director Robert Ruiz. “S.B. 783 is a huge step in ensuring that the quality of your education is not tied to your zip code or your family’s income. This is a major win for all parents, especially those looking for more choices within the public school system.”
Also, the Oklahoma State Senate passed House Bill 2078 on March 31. It amends the school funding formula to reflect more current student enrollment counts. The current system, which relies on a “three year high” student count, allows multiple schools to collect funds for the same students (a loophole known as counting “ghost students).
H.B. 2078 passed 27-19 in the Senate and headed to governor’s desk. The measure did not gather dust on the chief executive’s desk, as he signed it at a Blue Room ceremony that same afternoon.
“It’s important for schools to be funded for the students they are actually educating, not the students they educated two years ago,” said Ruiz. “First, it protects the integrity of the system and ensures tax dollars are being spent as they were intended. Second, it is another tool which provides parents with more leverage and power in the public school system. If a school is growing because of its performance or because it offers services others do not, it should benefit from that. HB 2078 allows parents to take their dollars with them when they select the school of their choice.”
Note: Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.