Wednesday, March 7, 2012

House Lawmakers ‘Give Teeth’ to School District Transparency

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 6, 2012) – 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.

“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.

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