Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: December 8, 2017
Sen. Ron Sharp
Sen. Sharp files legislation to return local control of charter
school decisions to districts
In 2015, the legislature approved Senate Bill 782
amending the 1999 Oklahoma Charter School Act to allow charter schools
into rural school districts instead of just those in Oklahoma City
and Tulsa. Legislators were told that, under the legislation, local
boards of education would be in control of whether charter schools
could expand in their school districts but Sen. Ron
Sharp says the bill actually took away local control and he
has filed legislation to return control back to local school districts.
“We were told in 2015 that all expanding charter schools had
to go through the local board of education for its final approval
but that’s not what has happened. Locally-elected school boards
can and have rejected charter schools within their school districts
only to have the charter organizers appeal the rejection to the
non-elected State School Board to overturn,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee.
“To date, all of the local school board rejections have been
overturned by the State School Board violating the wishes of local
taxpayers who don’t want charter schools in their districts.
We must give back local control on decisions concerning charter
Senate Bill 879 would not allow appeals to the State Board of Education
of local school boards’ decisions rejecting charter schools.
Under the bill, any charter school that is currently sponsored by
the Oklahoma State School Board would have one year to find a new
Sharp said that local boards and taxpayers do not want charter schools
because they recognize that each new charter school reduces the
amount of dollars that the local public school district receives.
Each new charter school also reduces the per pupil spending in traditional
public schools because the state’s education budget has remained
flat in recent years while several charter schools have been added.
“One example occurred when Norman Public Schools lacked the
funds to continue a foreign language conversion program and couldn’t
find certified foreign language teachers, a group was able to start
a charter school in that district after the local school board rejected
its creation at the insistence of a majority of local citizens but
the State School Board approved it,” explained Sharp. “This
isn’t right but it has happened numerous times statewide.
Local taxpayers should decide what schools and kind of education
they want in their communities not the State Board of Education.”
For more information, contact:
Sen. Sharp: (405) 521-5539