OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal grant of more than $16 million is expected to increase the number of charter schools in Oklahoma over the next several years.
The state in September was awarded the U.S. Department of Education's Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program grant, The Oklahoman reported.
The grant will be used to fund nearly 25 new charter schools. Those schools are likely to be extensions of existing charter schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa that could expand into additional grades or open a new site in another neighborhood.
"We have a good number of what I think are high quality (charter) schools that, for whatever reason, haven't grown," said Brent Bushey, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit that will oversee the grant disbursements.
The grant comes amid a lawsuit filed against the state Board of Education by the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association. The association is seeking a share of the money that traditional public schools receive from state and county taxes and other revenue sources.
Public schools are funded through several local, state and federal sources. Charter schools are mainly funded through state aid.
The association argues that charter schools are receiving hundreds of dollars less in per-student, state-issued funding than public schools.
Officials in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts say each stands to lose $1 million to $1.5 million if the lawsuit succeeds. Earlier this month, the two districts were granted intervention and joined the lawsuit.
"Intervention in this suit is not our first choice," Tulsa Public Schools officials previously said. "We believe that this issue deserves a legislative solution that is lawful, sustainable, and equitable."