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Tulsa Public Schools superintendent speaks out about school funding

Posted at 7:12 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 08:35:00-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist is speaking out about the Oklahoma Board of Education's recent vote.

Members voted to split tax dollars between public and charter schools. Dr. Gist explained what impact this decision could have on classrooms, and she said they are going over the numbers.

"While we get together our next steps together in terms of the actions we will peruse. So, we don't know specifically, but it is a very significant budget impact on our district as it will be on others," Gist said.

Last week's 4-3 vote was met by sharp criticism from State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

"This is unconstitutional because it is basically telling taxpayers we're going to tax you, and take your money, but you're not going to have the kind of control of what those funds will be used for. This is protected in the constitution," Hofmeister said.

In a statement, Gov. Kevin Stitt fired back and called the decision the "right one for Oklahoma students."

I commend the State Board of Education for its lawful decision to uphold current statute and affirm that charter schools are public schools.

This decision is the right one for Oklahoma students. The COVID pandemic has shown us that students learn in a variety of different ways and there is no one-size-fits-all school for every student. Public school students should not be punished for succeeding in a charter school setting. Further, existing statute makes clear that charter schools are eligible for local revenues.

The State Board’s decision is a lawful solution to a problem that has existed for years and predates my time as governor. But let me be clear: I was hired to bring a fresh set of eyes to all areas of government, including, and perhaps most importantly, the way we educate future generations. Oklahoma’s 40+ year stagnant approach is not working. Being ranked among the bottom five states in the nation for education is unacceptable to me and I know it’s unacceptable to Oklahomans, so I will do everything I can to ensure Oklahoma becomes a Top Ten state in education and that includes supporting all public school students in the same way.

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