Gov. Fallin Pushing For School Savings Plan

Thursday, March 3rd 2016, 7:12 pm

While schools come to grips with those additional funding cuts, on Thursday the governor pushed for school savings plans that opponents say would take even more money away from public schools. 

Gov. Mary Fallin took her push for education savings accounts on the road on Thursday, visiting a school for homeless children.

The governor spent some time with the kids, answering their questions. She also answered questions about education savings accounts, similar to vouchers, on the same day the state called for an additional $62-million in cuts to education.

The governor says education savings accounts would offer parents more choices and help schools.

"This particular school runs off charity only and doesn't get any state or federal funding and so it would certainly help, especially with families that are in terrible distress, maybe homeless at times," said Fallin.

Rep. Jason Nelson authored the bill.

"Public schools can't be all things to all people. This would allow parents to take a portion of the money that their child would have generated with them to a private school of their choice. But it leaves part of the money behind," said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City.

That way, he says, public schools would still get some money, even though the student is no longer in their classroom.

"When you do that mathematically you're increasing the per-pupil revenue in the public school.  So it's a win-win," Nelson said.

"A portion of that money stays with the public schools, which helps them with their overhead costs, but yet takes away the expenses of actually having that child in the classroom," said Fallin.

Still, opponents say, it would take public dollars out of public schools at a time when public schools just can't afford it.

"To institute a plan that could cut $250-million out of the public school system by giving those tax dollars to private schools at a time when public schools have been cut by hundreds of millions of dollars in unconscionable," said House Minority leader Scott Inman.

Backers say one of the advantages of the education savings accounts is that any money that is not used can be used for the students’ college costs.