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On Moore’s Request for Early State Aid

June 23, 2013

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.

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  1. June 23, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Exactly. I’ve contacted MY Legislators and asked them to find the law…and change it if necessary. So you think this is all a way to attack carryovers?

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  2. RazorBackGuru
    June 23, 2013 at 8:11 am

    So called “spend down” laws requiring all districts to either spend all $ received in the same fiscal year are the next step in this draconian progression. It sounds ok on the outside, but what it really does is to make it impossible to save for contingencies or to plan for growth and innovations. And just in case you think that I am discussing a hypothetical situation, look eastward to the state universities of Arkansas – they are already under just such a law.

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  3. June 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    You probably realize that the 11 months is in the “rules,” which have the weight of law – but are not law. Same theory applies though – just change the rules, provide some of that “flexibility” you love to talk about. .. And, it’s really easier to change the rules than the law, though DDS Barresi hasn’t had too much success with that either. …

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  4. June 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Well, couldn’t find it in the rules. … Must be the TAD – even easier to change. … I’ll look again some day just wanted to say I didn’t find it. … :/

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  5. Kate
    June 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Another photo op for Barresi. (bad publicity is better than none, which is probably what campaign manager Jennifer Carter tells the dentist) Again, making promises she can’t back up. Money to Moore Pubic Schools does not really serve her agenda so it’s no big deal to her. I liked how she threw the Emergency Management people in the mix, assuring THEY could and would come across with the needed funds. I hope people actually pay attention to the ballots when they are at the polls…and NOT vote for Dentist Barresi. P.S. Nelson should stop talking about matters he doesn’t understand!

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  6. June 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    They are citing the statute that claims funds will be available to the BOE August 1 of the fiscal year in which they apply. So I am guessing by schools Sept 1? So September-July = 11 months for 12 months of funding. Still seems that there is more that the BOE and SDE can do.

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