Oklahoma State Lawmakers are taking aim at a settlement between the State School Board and public charter schools, shifting millions in school funding.
The agreement narrowly passed last month. Tuesday, lawmakers in the House Common Education Committee unanimously advanced a bill to undo it.
That lawsuit argued tax revue for schools should be shared equitably with charter schools. In committee, lawmakers began the process to pump the breaks, saying charter schools should not receive local tax dollars.
“This is an issue that was dropped on our laps a couple weeks ago,” Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow said. He penned the law as a committee substitute.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was outspoken against the settlement announced last month.
“It’s all just very rushed,” she said March 30.
Governor Kevin Stitt celebrated the estimated $15 million shift in education funding.
“We believe that they [charter schools] deserve every access and every opportunity that everyone else does in the public-school system here in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “Charter schools are public schools.”
“There’s a debate over whether charters should get local dollars and then there’s also another legal debate on whether they can get local dollars,” Hilbert said. “This takes away that concern.”
The bill advancing out of committee 14 – 0 said local tax dollars will not go to virtual or brick and mortar charter schools. However, it does allow in-person public charter schools to draw on state marijuana tax revenue.
“No charters will get local dollars,” Hilbert said.
Hofmeister has not yet signed the settlement. She said the bill passed from committee Tuesday “is a common sense effort to ensure that funds for buildings can go to charter schools with actual-in person instruction inside school buildings.”
“I haven’t heard from any members to disagree with brick-and-mortar charters getting some equitable funding, some parity there,” Hilbert said. “But on virtual schools, if the school’s a virtual school then I have a hard time being convinced that they should get building fund dollars.”
Because of the committee amendment, SB229 would have to go to the House, then back to the Senate before possibly being sent to the Governor's desk.