Monday, September 12, 2011

Information, Applications Posted on Newest School Choice Law

Oklahoma Equal Education Opportunity Scholarship Act Begins Work
OKLAHOMA CITY (September 8, 2011) -- The Oklahoma Tax Commission has posted applications on its website for both educational improvement grant organizations and scholarship-granting organizations in response to Senate Bill 969, a tuition tax credit program, which took effect August 26. 
Supt. Janet Barresi
“I’m glad this important reform has taken effect,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said. “This bill allows Oklahoma parents the opportunity to make the best choice for their children’s education. It gives much-needed support to low-income families and helps bring innovative programs to our schools.”
SB 969, by State Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, and State Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, is a key plank in Superintendent Barresi’s 3R Agenda to rethink, restructure and reform Oklahoma’s education system.
The bill offers a 50 percent state income tax credit to businesses and individuals making contributions to scholarship-granting organizations. Those organizations, in turn, provide tuition scholarships to families earning less than 300 percent of the requirement for the federal free and reduced lunch program or whose children attend a school identified as needing improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Funds generated from the tax credits also could be used to finance grants for innovative education programs in rural public schools across the state.
Contribution limits are up to $1,000 per person, $2,000 per couple or up to $100,000 per business entity. Up to $5 million in tax credits can be raised each year, half from individual tax filers and half from corporate tax filers. Any credits earned during the time period beginning August 26, 2011, through December 31, 2012, may not be claimed until tax year 2013.
Scholarship and grant organizations will be established as nonprofits, contributing at least ninety percent of annual receipts to eligible recipients and reporting annually to the Tax Commission. 
Sen. Dan Newberry
“In order to give every student a chance to learn, we must empower students and families with freedom of choice,” said Newberry in May after the Senate passed the final version of SB 969. “This legislation will encourage private sector investment in the success of our low-income children, removing barriers to achievement and helping children build better lives. Expanding choice will create a more fertile climate for learning, improving our education system.”
Newberry noted the measure would increase the overall amount spent on primary education while saving the state tax dollars.
Rep. Lee Denney
“This legislation provides an opportunity for Oklahomans to help poor children obtain a quality education,” said state Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing. “It provides a much-needed new source of education funding to benefit the students who are most at-risk.”
Organizations interested in applying can go to
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