Schools File Lawsuit Over Alleged Funding Miscalculation

Monday, March 28th 2016, 9:50 pm
By: News 9

A lawsuit was filed in the Oklahoma State Supreme Court Monday to grant relief on behalf of dozens of school districts.

The school districts want the state Department of Education to recalculate state aid for fiscal years 1993 to 2014.

During those 22 years, education officials said hundreds of thousands of students in 48 school districts have been disadvantaged.

“They did not get the funding that our taxpayers provided for them,” said Ponca City Public Schools Superintendent David Pennington.

Pennington said school children have been dealing with the consequences of a calculation error in state aid.

About a decade, he said he discovered additional taxpayer dollars, which were by law supposed to stay in local districts, were actually being distributed throughout the state.

Eventually, the error was acknowledged and has since been corrected.

3/28/2016 Related Story: Oklahoma School Districts Sue Education Department Over Misappropriated Funds

But the lawsuit asks for the state to do what Pennington said is only fair; to go back and fix it for the school districts, their students and the taxpayers.

“I think any of us, as taxpayers – we paid additional tax dollars and those dollars are supposed to stay in our school district to support our kids and we find out that those dollars have gone to other school districts where people paid a lower tax rate – that we would expect that those dollars be returned,” Pennington told News 9.

During the flawed 22-year period, Ponca City Public Schools estimates a loss of $13 million in revenue, money the district said could’ve helped with class sizes, college counseling and educational programs.

Oklahoma City Public Schools estimates a loss of $40 million.

Mid-Del Schools estimates $13 million in losses. District officials said the money could have been used when making salary and staffing decisions or building repairs.

The suit also calls for a collection of over-payments other districts may have received and redistribute those dollars to the underpaid schools.

Click here for a list of the schools in the lawsuit and for more information.