Forced Administrative Consolidation
Special Session Alert
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS AND ASK THEM TO:
- Support a long-term funding plan for education that includes regionally competitive teacher compensation.
- Support local control.
With no budget deal, the opportunity still exists for legislators to reach an agreement that will benefit public education. There are still conversations occurring among legislators about the importance of raising teacher pay, and it's important for education advocates to help keep that conversation alive. Multiple teacher pay raise bills were filed, including bills by Rep. Michael Rogers, House Speaker Charles McCall, and Sen. Ron Sharp.
Today the Oklahoma Policy Institute released polling with several interesting results. The poll showed:
- 67 percent of Oklahomans want lawmakers to pass a comprehensive revenue plan in special session that avoids further cuts and funds a teacher pay raise and other critical needs.
- 79 percent of Oklahomans believe teacher pay should be a major legislative priority, with 58 percent believing it should be the top priority.
- 76 percent believe "an educated and well-trained workforce" is more important to attracting business to locate in Oklahoma than "low personal income tax rates" (19%).
It's not a surprise that some legislators have filed bills to require forced administrative consolidation, as this is often a red herring to justify withholding additional funding to public schools. (Please see below for specific information on administrative consolidation bills.) State legislators have already enacted two recent task forces to study administrative costs (SB 514) and the State Aid funding formula (HB 1578). Rather than rushing to push through legislation for which there has been no fiscal impact conducted, lawmakers should allow these task forces to conduct their study and research into school funding.
Despite the increased rhetoric around administrative costs, the education funding crisis is real and will not be solved by forcing local school boards and communities to cut services in ways that don't make sense for their local schools and students. The following facts can be helpful in reminding lawmakers that the overall low level of per-pupil education funding -- not administrative costs -- presents the greatest challenge for schools.
The Bottom Line on Funding & Administrative Costs
- Oklahoma invests $1,500 less per student than the regional average.
- Other states in our region reached Oklahoma's current level of per-student spending a decade ago.
- Administrative costs accounted for only 3.67% of total expenditures made by Oklahoma public schools in FY 2016 while 73% of expenditures were for direct student services.
- Oklahoma ranks 43rd nationally on the amount it spends per student on district and school administration.
- Oklahoma has fewer administrators per student than every state in our region and is ranked 42nd nationally.
- The number of district-level administrators accounts for less than 1 percent of district staffing.
- Many districts are already sharing services such as treasurers, IT services, purchasing, special education services, etc.
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Policy Institute released a report on school funding which dispels the myth that there is significant cost savings to be had from cutting administrative spending alone. That report can be found here.
- HB 1065 by Rep. Jon Echols (R-OKC) and Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Norman)
- SB 9 by Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC)
What they will do:
- HB 1065 by Rep. Echols (R-OKC) and Rep. Cleveland (R-Norman) would require the State Superintendent to present to the State Board of Education a list of all public school districts with less than 1,000 students (~ 395 districts). Based on this list, the Superintendent and State Board will decide which districts shall be forced to consolidate administrative functions.
- Significant consideration for administrative consolidation shall be placed on districts spending less than two-thirds of their budget on instructional costs.
- School districts designated for administrative consolidation shall submit a plan by January 2020, to be implemented in the 2020-2021 school year.
- Services to be consolidated include: functions of the district superintendent, school budgeting, facility maintenance, equipment, nutrition programs, curriculum and instruction, textbooks, professional development resources, payroll, legal, human resources, federal programs, purchasing, technology, federal and state reporting, and bonding and infrastructure.
- Funds saved shall be retained by the district and reallocated for instructional expenditures.
- SB 9 by Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC) would require school districts with an ADM of less than 200 students (~ 96 districts) to consolidate administrative services with a contiguous school district or districts by July 1, 2020.
- For purposes of this Act, "administrative services" include the duties of a superintendent, assistant superintendent, director, coordinator or supervisor;
- Also includes the duties of any employee who has responsibility for administrative functions including human resources, purchasing, accounting, and information technology.
- The act specifically excludes principal and assistant principal duties.
When they will be heard:
With the special session currently in recess, we don't know if or when these bills will be heard. However, we are concerned that an administrative consolidation plan could be used as a bargaining chip in an overall budget deal.
Because bills can progress more quickly during special session, there is a chance one or both of these bills could be heard within a day or two of the legislature reconvening.