Legislation to give schools flexibility during shortfall passes House

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 02-Mar-2010

Several state education mandates would be temporarily relaxed for two years to give school districts additional financial flexibility if legislation unanimously passed by the House today becomes law. House Bill 3029, by House Speaker Chris Benge, gives school districts more flexibility to prioritize their funds into areas that work best for their local community. “In this economic environment, the more flexibility we can give our school districts to spend state funds in the classroom, the better,” said Benge, a Tulsa Republican. “This plan maintains quality and encourages local control and hopefully provides some relief to school budgets that are already feeling the effects of lower revenue collections.”

The legislation suspends several mandates, including some accreditation requirements, library media expenditures, class size requirements, advisory councils, certification requirements for library media specialists, the mentor teacher program and freezes the textbook adoption cycle.

Combined, relaxing the mandates for fiscal year 2011 and 2012 will save school districts millions of dollars that can instead be used for general operations, Benge said.

The bill passed the House today with a vote of 94-0 and will now move to the Senate for consideration.