School funding and enrollment could change soon

School funding and enrollment could change soon

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - State House members have passed two bills that could change the way schools in Oklahoma are funded and open enrollment policies.

House Bill 2074 would allow students to transfer to any district at any time, with no more than two transfers in a year.

House Bill 2078 would cause schools to be funded based off student enrollment every year instead of the highest enrollment number every three years.

Cache Public School Superintendent Chad Hance said he’s not in favor of House Bill 2078.

He believes the way schools are funded now should stay just how it is.

“By moving to a one-year hire or current year that takes away from the budgeting process for our schools it also could lead to putting teacher’s jobs in jeopardy because if we aren’t able to budget on the numbers that we know and we have to wait and see. What’s to say when we start the school year things change, we may have to make some changes midstream.”

Lawton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Hime said he’s in the same boat as Hance.

He said the district could lose millions of dollars in funding and that’s his biggest concern.

“The way the school funding is based when you look at Lawton gaining and adding students. If that bill went into effect next year we would lose about six-million dollars of revenue. We’d have to make some changes, and it would also tax six-million dollars out of Lawton.”

Hance said House Bill 2074 takes away local control from locally elected board officials in the district.

“My biggest concern I have is on our taxpayers. Our residents have chosen to support our school, just like other schools in our area those residents have decided to be supportive and now we’re going to be having to take open transfers for students that don’t live in our district, and don’t share our base evaluation, they don’t pay our seeking fund to help pay off our bonds. So now we’re going to be forced to take those. I just don’t think it’s fair and right for the taxpayers.”

Hime said LPS already deals with a lot of students who transfer to and from the district, so that’s not an issue.

“If you read into it. It’s the amount of reporting and reports you have to create your capacity studies, and it has to go to the state department, you have to update it every month, and when you start looking at that with a school district the size as Lawton with the number of campuses we have. You could be looking at having to hire an employee or to just keep up with the data on that bill, and they didn’t put any funding in it.”

He said the district could spend anywhere between 40 to 50 thousand dollars worth of labor to meet that demand.

For now, the bills still have to be passed by the senate and signed by the Governor before any of those changes are made.

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