Budget & Tax

Ray Carter | February 7, 2023

Senators seek information on Oklahoma school administrative spending

Ray Carter

Differences in school districts’ administrative spending, along with potential association with student outcomes, could become publicly available to parents under legislation that has advanced from a state Senate committee.

Senate Bill 45, by state Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, would modify the mandate of the existing School Finance Review Commission by requiring the group to specifically examine “variances in per-pupil and administrative expenditures among school districts with comparable enrollment, demographics, and outcomes on statewide assessments,” and identify “expenditures that are not directly or sufficiently related to improving student outcomes.”

The School Finance Review Commission is already tasked with examining school spending practices and issuing a report by the end of 2023, but Bergstrom’s bill provides more specificity to the group’s mission.

“We’re saying give us this additional information so that we can really understand where we can make improvements and how we can better spend the funds that we’re putting into education, and maybe areas where we need to be putting more money (in),” said Bergstrom, a longtime teacher prior to winning election to the Senate.

The legislation also requires the commission to identify administrative costs “including administrative functions that may be shared between school districts,” as well as opportunities “for school districts to be operated in a cost-effective manner.” Bergstrom noted the latter category could include the potential need to break up large districts that have become top-heavy.

This is Bergstrom’s second attempt to identify the various forms of school expenses. Bergstrom authored a similar measure last year that passed out of the Senate that did not ultimately become law.

SB 45 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a 9-2 vote that split along party lines with Democrats in opposition.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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