Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: April 16, 2015
Sen. Clark Jolley
Bill expanding charter school opportunities
to all Oklahoma school districts heads to Governor
Legislation giving all state school districts
the ability to expand public education options has received final
Senate approval and will next move to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk.
Senate Bill 782, by Sen. Clark
Jolley and Rep. Lee Denney, amends current law which only gives
school districts in the state’s two largest counties, Oklahoma
and Tulsa County, the ability to create charter schools.
“This bill will give parents of Oklahoma school children
more opportunities to create charter schools that meet the educational
needs of their students through innovative approaches and curriculum.
Giving parents outside of Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties this same
right is a key reform that is monumental,” said Jolley, R-Edmond.
“The final bill was truly a collaborative effort. I want to
thank the other stakeholders who helped craft a measure that gives
more choices for Oklahoma children and their parents.”
“Although charter schools enjoy tremendous flexibility, this
bill ensures oversight and accountability requirements must be met,”
said Denney, R-Cushing. “Senator Jolley and I appreciate the
support of our fellow members, and look forward to Governor Fallin
signing SB 782 into law.”
Both the measure and the effort the bill’s authors made to
ensure multiple groups had input in the final language drew praise
upon the measure’s passage in the Senate on Thursday.
"We are pleased that education groups were allowed to help
fashion Senate Bill 782 so that this charter school law respects
the authority of local school boards to experiment with different
educational delivery systems in order to best serve Oklahoma students
and their parents,” said Ryan Owens of the Cooperative Council
of Oklahoma School Administrators.
Nina Rees, President of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,
said the bill would give more students access to the choice of attending
a charter school, whether they live in an urban or rural school
"According to our recent rankings report, Oklahoma has one
of the weakest state public charter laws in the country. The current
charter school law allows charters only in approximately four percent
of the state’s school districts – mostly those located
in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. We expect Oklahoma will move significantly
higher in our rankings if this bill becomes law.”
SB 782 not only allows all school districts to adopt a charter
school model, but also provides for an appeals process if a charter
application is refused. The legislation also creates greater accountability
through language that authorizes the State Board of Education to
close low-performing charter schools.
Shawn Hime, speaking for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association
said the bill represented an effort to strengthen local control.
"Not only does the bill solidify the locally elected board
of education as the primary authorizer of charter schools, it empowers
local districts with new authority to designate and operate schools
in their districts as charters,” Hime said.
An official with the State Chamber of Commerce praised the legislation’s
authors, and the collaboration between business community and education
officials in creating greater choice for Oklahoma students.
"Expanding school choice and adding more accountability to
the state's charter schools are vital to improving Oklahoma's education
system. More options for parents outside Tulsa and Oklahoma counties
will increase the number of students ready for college or a career
when they graduate. This bill is a great example of the business
community and education professionals coming together on a positive
solution for Oklahoma. We'd like to thank Senator Jolley, Representative
Denney and leadership in both houses for getting this bill through
the process,” said Jennifer Lepard, Vice President, Government
Affairs, State Chamber of Oklahoma.
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