OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, has filed legislation that will protect student funding by clarifying language governing contractual agreements between schools and educational management organizations.
House Bill 1735 will ensure school boards retain control of such contracts and that funding appropriated for students actually goes toward their learning needs and not into private accounts with little or no oversight.
“Several Oklahoma schools have partnered with educational management organizations to help manage items such as grading, testing and other components of a student’s education,” Dills said. “Gaps in statute exist, however, that leave schools paying large amounts to private management companies and leaving questions over whether funding is actually going toward the student they are responsible for educating. It’s incredibly important going forward that we protect student funding and ensure taxpayer dollars are going where they are intended. This measure increases such transparency and accountability.”
HB 1735 clearly defines and distinguishes between public and private dollars. It requires regular accountability audits to ensure the for-profit management company and the school are following the law. The bill also requires fee-for-service contracts and competitive bidding requirements as well as creates fiscal responsibilities of the sponsor, including a cap on the fee the sponsor receives at 3% or $500,000, whichever is less.
In addition, the bill clearly defines the responsibility of the school to adhere to rules for administrative costs and it addresses transparency when conflict of interest exist. It also requires board training for school board members and sponsors.
Dills, the chair of the House Republican Caucus, said HB 1735 builds on important reforms signed into law the last two years that added additional transparency and accountability for Oklahoma’s schools.
“I want better accountability and transparency throughout all education funding,” Dills said. “These changes to statute will provide more protections for our students and reassure our taxpayers that their dollars are being spent wisely and as intended.”