CCOSA Statement on Education Funding
Sep 07, 2017
When we communicate with our legislators, our members and the public, we make sure the information we are sharing is factual. It is our responsibility to be transparent and thoughtful, particularly when we are sharing data that directly impacts our public school students. Regardless of what others might say, the facts confirm that we are underinvesting in public education and short-changing our students.
Many of you have likely seen the email sent to Republican legislators Tuesday morning by Rep. Michael Rogers, Chair of the House Common Education Committee, alleging education funding cuts are "fake news." His email included a link to an SDE report showing an increase in expenditures over the past five years (https://sdeweb01.sde.ok.gov/OCAS_Reporting/)
In case you were not aware, the numbers referred to by Rep. Rogers include local and federal dollars, which the legislature has no control over and for which the legislature cannot take credit. Federal funding has specific strings attached and districts do not have as much discretion over its use.
Many school districts are now using bond money for technology and other expenses that were formerly paid from the general fund, which is supported by state appropriations. These expenses are also included in the SDE numbers. In previous years, local bond money primarily supported capital expenditures and would not have been included in the SDE numbers.The fact remains that there is less state aid per weighted pupil supporting our public schools than in 2009. CCOSA stands firm on the facts.
As school leaders, I hope you will take time to contact your local legislators and help them understand the distinction between state funding and other sources of school revenue. Invite lawmakers into your district, show them where you have made cuts, and remain steadfast in your request for a long-term funding solution for public education.
School finance is complicated. We should use this opportunity as a teaching moment for schools and a learning opportunity for legislators.