Legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives would “give teeth” to the School District Transparency Act, according to the bill’s author.
Under House Bill 2644, by state Rep. David Brumbaugh, school districts and the Oklahoma Board of Education would lose funding if they fail to comply with the School District Transparency Act.
House Bill 2644 requires the Office of State Finance to withhold administrative and support funds from the State Department of Education if the department does not put on its website data required by the School District Transparency Act. The withholding will be 1 percent of total appropriations for administrative and support functions for the first month of noncompliance, 2 percent for the second month, 3 percent for the third month 4 percent for the fourth month, 5 percent for the fifth month and 8 percent for each subsequent month.
The measure also increases the penalty for districts continually not adhering to the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System. The penalty will not change until after the fifth month the district does not adhere but after that the State Department of Education will decrease school districts’ state aid payment by 8 percent for each month districts are not in compliance.
The measure also requires that by December 1 and before distributing state aid, the State Department of Education verify that each school district has complied with the School District Transparency Act.
“I authored this bill because taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent in our schools and lawmakers need to have financial data to make appropriation decisions,” said Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow).
The legislation authorizes the Office of State Finance to withhold administrative and support funds from the Oklahoma State Board of Education if it does not include data on its website required by the School District Transparency Act. The withholding would be 1 percent of total appropriations for administrative and support functions and would increase by 1 percent for each subsequent month of noncompliance. If noncompliance continued after five months, 8 percent would be withheld.
“The main thrust of this bill is to get more data posted online at the state level, but I also felt that we should address school districts,” Brumbaugh said. “I did try to give the school districts a lot of leeway so they are not punished for an honest mistake, but only for being out of compliance for months and months.”
House Bill 2644 was approved by a vote of 87-2 and now proceeds to the Senate for consideration.