Oklahoma officers are analyzing the funding components for training native information
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Kevin Stitt vows to drive out “ghost students” whom he says are following the state’s school funding formula.
In his State of the State address last week, the Republican governor said Oklahomans could redefine the future of public education by cracking down on school funding. He said the current formula allows students who have moved from one district to another to be counted in both.
“They are called ‘ghost students,” “said Stitt. “We’re sending money to districts to raise kids who don’t go there, and it’s just not fair.”
He would like school funding based on current enrollment.
Under current law, districts may use the highest enrollment number for the past two years each August. That means some districts could be compensated for their 2019 enrollment numbers if that had been the highest number available when school started last fall.
“First and foremost, we don’t have ‘ghost students’ in schools in Oklahoma,” said Shawn Hime, executive director of the State School Boards Association. “Our funding formula has proven to be very fair and fair to both declining enrollment schools and growing schools.”
He said a change proposed by lawmakers would cut the payment for the following previous year and only use the previous year’s count, and that would make it difficult for schools when it comes to ongoing contracts and mandatory costs.
The way districts are structured means they can’t make quick decisions, he said.
“And you don’t want to make quick decisions when you are talking about quality educators based on a year-long variation in student enrollment,” said Hime.
Hime also said he did not know how heads of state would define a “ghost student” if a formula that Oklahoma had in the past or that is being proposed was still funded based on at least a number of students in the previous year.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation first coined the nickname “Ghost Student” while investigating possible misconduct at Epic Charter Schools. The OSBI used the term to quantify students enrolled but not educated, said Curtis Shelton, a policy researcher with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs who identifies as an organization in support of “free enterprise, limited government, individual” initiative and personal responsibility. “
Shelton’s group requested enrollment numbers from the State Department of Education and used a formula to calculate how many “ghost students” attend schools in Oklahoma. About 90 percent of Oklahoma school districts had at least one “ghost student” enrolled.
There were roughly 55,000 ghost students in total, which means about $ 200 million in tax dollars went to counties where those students no longer attended, he said.
Shelton’s group is advocating legislative changes that better ensure that money follows the student as intended and is more closely tied to current enrollment numbers. He also suggested lawmakers allow one year-long option instead of two.
“It would still provide enough buffer for the districts to make accurate budget decisions, but it would tie funding closer to current enrollment numbers,” Shelton said.
Janelle Stecklein reports on the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. You can reach her at [email protected]