Oklahoma City — Oklahoma House Republicans last week announced an education plan designed for every student, parent and teacher in the state.
House Bill 2775, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, includes a $500 million funding increase for public schools statewide that will fund $2,500 pay increases for every teacher not designated as a trustee; $50 million to distribute to schools receiving below-average funding from annual local tax revenues; and $300 million to be distributed to public school districts on a per-pupil basis.
House Bill 1935 create the Oklahoma Ac Parental Choice Tax Creditt, which would allow for a $5,000 annual tax credit for parents of eligible students attending private schools and a $2,500 credit for homeschooled students.
“This plan works for all education stakeholders in our state,” McCall said.
“First and foremost, it works for students and supports strong parental involvement in a child’s education. We know the key to future success is a great education, and House Republicans is committed to ensuring every student can attend school that best meets your needs.
“But as I have said several times over the past year, we must achieve this without eroding the funding needed by our public schools and our public school teachers who are so vital to student academic excellence. This plan continues our level record classroom funding for our public schools and raise pay for public school teachers so they have the resources they need to excel at their jobs.”
McCall said the House education policy provides for less government intrusion into local districts and into the personal lives and finances of Oklahomas.
This education plan will put Oklahoma on par Florida and put Oklahoma just behind Texas in expenditure per pupil. Also, it will put the state in front of Arkansas AND Missouriand tied with Kansas for the average salary of teachers.
“This is a policy and funding plan that sets every child up for success,” McCall said.
Of the additional money allocated per pupil through the tuition funding formula, the money can only be used to:
* Increased salaries of teachers and support staff;
* Programs related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses;
* Textbooks, curriculum and other educational materials, including tools or accessories for music or art and technology courses for classrooms;
* Increased classroom capacity and additional institutional space for academic instructors if a school is at full capacity;
* Fees for nationally standardized assessments;
* Specialized summer and after-school programs;
* Student support services, including health and mental health; AND
* Tuition and fees for concurrent enrollment at an institution within the Oklahoma state higher education system.
Tax credits for parents would include:
* Private tuition and tax credit of $5,000 per eligible student charged in each tax year;
* Homeschool credits of $2,500 per eligible dependent student in each fiscal year for qualifying expenses, including tuition and fees for non-public online learning programs; tutoring services; and additional services or materials including classes, textbooks, curriculum or other educational materials, and extracurricular activities and programs; and concurrent tuition fees for courses at an Oklahoma institution of higher learning.
* The credits would be retroactive to January 1, 2023, to allow people to apply for the full credit this year.