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Oklahoma legislators working to pass Redbud School Funding Act

Updated: Apr. 20, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - A bill amendment making its way through the Oklahoma legislature aims to address issues brought on by a recent decision by the State Board of Education.

7NEWS has done stories in recent weeks of local superintendents voicing their concerns about the State Board of Education’s decision to equalize funding between public schools and charter schools.

Senator John Montgomery said after that decision, the legislature got to work on an amendment to Senate Bill 229 that shifts education money to the districts that truly need it the most.

Senator Montgomery said the amendment to Senate Bill 229 seeks to fund something called the Building Equalization Fund, which was created in 1955.

“The original intent of this fund was to help school districts that have a low ad valorem valuation to be able to have dollars to be able to pay for school buildings. That’s what we’re doing here is funding that,” Montgomery said.

The funding would come from State Question 788, which legalized medical marijuana.

“We’re proposing to use a part of medical marijuana revenue, that’s what voters intended is that it goes towards education. This just seeks to dedicate it for that purpose to ensure we have parity among all districts for how they’re funded for buildings,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said the money would specifically go to districts that are below the statewide average in the local tax revenue they receive per student. Right now, that includes 334 districts across the state.

“This adds in those districts that are in the lower end of the millage rates and gets them back up to the average is the goal. The idea is that money goes to districts all across the state and equalizes their building funds,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said there are still a few steps for the bill, but he hopes it will go to the governor’s desk in the next few weeks. He said this is a building fund for traditional brick and mortar schools, so virtual schools would not be included if the bill is passed.

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