On Moore’s Request for Early State Aid
Much is being made over the dust up in the last few days about the request by Moore Public Schools for early state aid. And it should. This is an issue that speaks immediately to one’s sense of empathy and in a larger sense to the way in which education is funded in Oklahoma. Many people have reported that Superintendent Barresi said she would “move heaven and earth” to help the district. It would seem that some are questioning the level of commitment now behind those sentiments.
Look at this on a bigger scale, though. For more than a year now, school districts have faced question after question about their supposedly large fund balances. Rep. Jason Nelson has been studying this for quite some time, in fact. He was even on Twitter last night questioning Moore’s request for $5 million, citing an $11 million carryover – LAST YEAR.
A lot has changed in a year, Rep. Nelson. State revenue has increased, but per pupil funding to school districts continues to lag. Enrollment is up in many places, especially in districts such as Moore. Few districts have the carryover they did last year. And as several other people pointed out on Twitter, $11 million isn’t even one month’s expenses in a district that size.
Also on Twitter, I challenged readers last night to find out where it says in state law that the payments have to be disbursed in 11 payments rather than 12. So far, none of us have found it. Maybe it’s there and we’re missing something. Even if that’s true, it’s not ok to act as if state law is that hard to change when it suits you.
One of the first things the legislature did when Governor Fallin and Superintendent Barresi took office was change the law to allow for the immediate and complete replacement of the State Board of Education. As recently as last month, the legislature postponed full implementation of TLE because the SDE couldn’t complete preparations for it. Don’t throw your hands up in the air and say, well, it’s the law. CHANGE THE LAW!
The bottom line is if you say you’re going to take extreme measures to help someone, maybe you should know whether you have the ability – and the commitment – to back it up.