Study outlines options for cost
savings in Oklahoma's school districts
school districts can redirect more funding to teachers and classrooms
by streamlining and consolidating administrative costs, offering parents
more choices for their children and eliminating waste, said Sen. Kyle
The Oklahoma State Senate Education Subcommittee on Appropriations
held an interim study Wednesday spurred by legislation authored by
Loveless last session. The bill would have consolidated administrative
spending for more than 200 Oklahoma school districts with 250 or fewer
students, which Loveless said could have resulted in more than $35
million in savings to be redirected to classrooms.
"Today was just to look at all the efficiencies that need to
be improved in public education so that we can get more tax dollars
to actual teaching," said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City.
Heather Kays, a research fellow specializing in education with The
Heartland Institute, said school districts can share costs on a regional
basis in some administrative functions and capital expenses to provide
the benefit of scale.
"Places where that makes a lot of sense are things like payroll
administration, human resources, employee benefit coordination, accounting,
printing services, state aid planning, textbook and substitute teaching
coordination, safety and risk management and staff development,"
Kays also outlined in-depth studies that analyzed examples of school
choice programs such as charter schools. The studies showed students
in public and charter schools achieved educational benefits and taxpayer
money was spent more efficiently in a number of existing models available
for Oklahoma to follow.
"You have very specific examples of it working well, and the
laws already exist elsewhere," Kays said. "You can model
them after that, and you can just make it so that it fits Oklahoma
The panel also heard a presentation from Brent Bushey, executive director
of the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides
member school districts with subsidies and other programs aimed to
stretch funding dollars and provide better educational opportunities
"We have a very simple mission: to work with public schools,
to empower them and to find ways to both improve their school performance
as well as drive down costs," Bushey said.
The resource center assists school districts with programs including
financial management, instructor training, technology systems management
and legal services.
Loveless pointed to information provided by speakers at the study
that indicated school district consolidation and eliminating waste
could lead to significant savings by school districts, which could
directly benefit Oklahoma students.
"The issue here is the duplication. If there's just a little
bit of waste, multiplied over 500 districts, that needs to be addressed,"
Loveless said. "Looking at it and discussing it and not just
ignoring the problem is what we need to move forward."
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sparks: (405) 521-5553