Public school state aid funding a broken system in Oklahoma education, according to many
In the state of Oklahoma, a public school’s general fund is made up of four components.
First; local property taxes, second; various county taxes, third; state money and fourth; federal money.
The Oklahoma State Aid Formula was created to help with equity among Oklahoma public schools. The formula is designed to create a specific amount of state aid funding each school district will receive in an academic year by determining the weighted amount it takes to educate an individual student.
The state of Oklahoma developed this state aid formula in a time when charter schools were not a consideration, especially virtual charter schools.
Charter schools operate as a public-school district, but in fact are different in their approach. Allegedly, the initial idea behind charter schools was to allow a school to develop different and innovative ways of teaching and then bringing those new ideas of educating to the traditional school districts.
According to many in the education system in Oklahoma, that has not been the case.
Every year, the state of Oklahoma allocates a certain amount of money for each public-school district based on the state aid formula. However, half-way through the academic year, the state will adjust that allocated amount of money in what they refer to as the “mid-year allocation”.
For instance, Jenks Public Schools was originally allocated $32,380,885 from state aid, but after the mid-year allocation, Jenks will receive $31,752,187, which is a difference of $628,698.
The mid-year allocation takes place to adjust for school district growth and any other changes that might occur throughout a school year.
The state of Oklahoma determined that it was going to take an average of $3,592.37 to educate a single student for the entire academic year in 2019-2020. However, following the mid-year allocation, that number dropped to $3,581.16.
Charter schools, specifically virtual charter schools are also included in the state aid funding. For instance, Epic One On One Charter School, which is a virtual charter school, received an initial state aid allocation of $70,139,049, but after the mid-year allocation is receiving $96,221,901.
That number is higher than what Jenks Public Schools is receiving by more than $60 million, what Edmond Public Schools is receiving by more than $50 million and what more than Broken Arrow Public Schools is receiving by more than $40 million.
Many across the state believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Oklahoma State Legislature because they say the cost of educating a student through a virtual charter school does not come close to what it costs to educate a student who is in a traditional public school district, such as Jenks or Broken Arrow.
The majority of public-school districts across Oklahoma saw their state aid allocation number drop in the mid-year allocation.
According to Jenks Public Schools’ Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Cody Way, Jenks will be forced to make up for the $628,698 difference in future budgets because the budget for this academic year is already set in stone.
Way also said that since he has been at Jenks Public Schools, the annual budget has gone up every year and this was the first year the annual budget for Jenks crossed the $100 million dollar line with the majority of that money going toward salaries.