LOFT: ‘Outdated’ School Funding Formula Leaves Bilingual, Economically-Disadvantaged Students Behind

Tuesday, July 26th 2022, 9:27 am


A report from a legislative watchdog called the Oklahoma school funding formula “outdated” and claims it is often hard to track where all the money is going.

The 118-page report comes from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, or LOFT, and was presented to lawmakers Tuesday morning.

One of the main takeaways from the report is the complicated funding formula has been unchanged since the early 1980s. The report claims the formula doesn’t reflect the needs to students today and isn’t providing enough support to bilingual and economically-disadvantaged students.

According to the report, for example, “Oklahoma’s weight for bilingual students is below the national average and less than the State weight applied for gifted and talented students. Additionally, Oklahoma’s definition for this group of students is overly broad, encompassing students who are proficient in two languages instead of targeting students lacking English proficiency.”

LOFT also found the State Department of Education doesn’t “actively monitor of provide a detailed review of school district expenditures,” which can make it difficult to provide full transparency of public funds.

The report claims this is in contest to federal funds that require specific data about how the money is being spent.

Out of nearly $3 billion the state spends on common education, LOFT found only about one-sixth of that is directly reported back to the state’s legislature.

“The lack of reported outcome data has limited policymakers’ ability to determine the impact of investments. Pairing information about areas of need with data demonstrating program effectiveness would enable strategic investments of public funds,” the report said.

Another recommendation is a change in law to allow the leaders of the state House and Senate to appoint members to the state board of education.

Currently, the governor appoints the school board.

The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency works for state lawmakers.