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ASPIRE Oklahoma: Record Public School Investments - What You Need to Know

ASPIRE Oklahoma: Record Public School Investments - What You Need to Know

OPSA has put together this Frequently Asked Questions blog to help public school parents, teachers, and school administrators learn more about how the ASPIRE Oklahoma Plan applies to them. Governor Kevin Stitt was joined by students, parents, and school leaders from across the state to sign the ASPIRE Oklahoma Plan into law; a first-of-its-kind education freedom program and record funding in Oklahoma’s school system. 

We have tried to cover everything currently known about the plan, however, as the Oklahoma State Department of Education makes decisions about the plan's implementation more information will be added to this blog. We suggest you bookmark this blog and check back frequently for the most up-to-date information. In the meantime, you can email any questions to our Director of Parent Services, Lucia Frohling, at LFrohling@okpsaedu.org

Want to learn more about the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit of the ASPIRE Oklahoma Plan for homeschool parents? Check out this blog post.

Want to learn more about the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit of the ASPIRE Oklahoma Plan for private school parents? Check out this blog post.

Q. What is important to know about the ASPIRE Oklahoma Plan?

A: It is the intent of the legislature that the current funding level for the State Aid Formula plus $500,000,000 is the new “Oklahoma” standard for public school funding in the state. This also places Redbud School Grants into the same category of funding standard at $128,000,000.

Q: What specific bills are included in the ASPIRE Oklahoma Plan that impacts public schools?

A: Details are listed below.

Bill Number Information
HB 2901 Appropriates an additional $500M to the funding formula and $125M for the Redbud Fund
HB 2902 Adjusts transportation, economically disadvantaged, and small school weights
SB 1119 Raises the minimum salary schedule for certified personnel
SB 1121 6-weeks of paid maternity for full-time district employees after the first year with the district
SB 1120 Modifies the caps and parameters of the Redbud Fund
HB 2903 3-year SRO school security pilot program with each district receiving $96k per year
HB 2904 Appropriates $150M to implement HB 2903
SB 1118

Appropriates $10M for SDE to implement a literacy instruction team for 3 years

 

Q: When does the $625 million public school education recurring investment, as well as the additional $160 million in one-time dedicated funding, take effect?

A: July 1, 2023.

 

Q: What is included in the historic $625 million public school education recurring investment?

A: $500 million will go into the school funding formula including funding paid maternity leave for teachers, every Oklahoma public school teacher and certified staff member will receive a raise, and $125 million will be placed in the Redbud Fund.

 

Q: What is the additional $500M infused into the State Funding Formula for?

A: The additional funding will go toward:

  • Six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers (estimated cost of $12 million). 
  • An additional $214 million of new appropriations into the state funding equalization formula. It is estimated that districts will receive $1,000 more per student. 
  • Three modifications for the state funding formula:
    • Compensate for bus transportation by changing the weight from 0.25 to 0.30.
    • Supports schools with higher percentages of socio-economically disadvantaged students by changing the weight from 1.39 to 2.0.
    • Creates greater eligibility for the “small school” formula weight to increase funding for hundreds of rural schools by changing the small school designation from 529 ADM to 750 ADM (Average Daily Membership). 
  • $286 million in certified support staff and teacher pay raises.  It is important to note that ALL teachers will receive their full salary increase, even if their current pay is above the salary schedule. Details are listed below.

 

Years of Service

Pay Increase

0 - 4 Years

$3,000 

4 - 9 Years

$4,000

10 - 14 Years

$5,000

15+ Years

$6,000

Q: What about support staff? Do they get a pay raise?
A: Support staff raises are left to the LEA (Local Education Agency) or the District.  If the LEA or District believes they have enough revenue to do a raise, then they may do a raise.  This is similar to thinking that the LEA or District is limited to the minimum salary structure for certified teachers. They can absolutely pay over the minimum amount; they just have to have enough money to do so.  
 
Q: Who is eligible for maternity leave? What is the timeframe for when this takes effect?

A: The requirements to be considered an eligible employee:

  • Full-time employees of an Oklahoma public school district:
    • who have been employed by the district for at least one year and
    • who have worked at least one thousand two hundred fifty (1250) hours during the preceding twelve-month period.
  • Full-time classroom instructional tech center employees; Department of Rehabilitation Services teachers; instructors employed by the Department of Corrections; and teachers employed by the Office of Juvenile Affairs to teach in their facilities
The bill does not specify whether the eligible employee must be the mother of the child, or if a father or other parent, if otherwise eligible, is also entitled to the leave.

 

Q: How much is being invested in the Redbud Fund and what is it?

A: The Redbud Fund will increase by $125M to offset property tax revenue disparities in districts with lower ad valorem bases. School districts and eligible charter schools that are below the state average in local property taxes for the building fund and the county-wide millage per student are eligible to receive these funds. This means that they have lower per-pupil funding than other districts. It is estimated that 78% of all school districts in Oklahoma meet these criteria.

 

Q: How much is being invested in improving literacy in our state?

A: A Literacy Program will be started with a $10M infusion over a three-year period ($3.3M per year). The literacy program will employ a literacy instructional team to support school districts, specifically elementary school reading specialists.  The program will support school districts in implementing 70 O.S. § 1210.508 - Statewide System of Student Assessments - Remediation for Students Not Performing at Proficiency Level. The goal is that this will address the dramatic decline in reading outcomes that have occurred in recent years.

  • SDE shall provide technical assistance for literacy instruction, dyslexia, and related disorders, and serve as a primary source of information and support for schools in addressing the needs of students struggling with those conditions.
  • Priority will be given to schools that have the highest percentage of students who do not demonstrate sufficient reading skills as established by the State Board of Education.
  • SDE shall employ a literacy instructional team with team members placed regionally across the state.
  • The teams will assist general and special education teachers in recognizing educational needs to improve literacy outcomes, and to increase professional awareness and instructional competencies to meet the educational needs of all students.

With respect to the instructional team members:​​

  • Team members will report directly to the Director of Reading Sufficiency at the SDE.
  • The team will be composed of a minimum of five regional literacy leads, at least one of whom will be a designated dyslexia specialist; and at least ten literacy specialists.
  • literacy instructional team members will be required to have training in six specific areas.

 

Q: How much is being invested in improving school safety?

A: The School Safety Pilot Program with a one-time allocation of $150M ($50M per year over a three-year period) equates to approximately $96,000 per school district each year of the program. A three-year pilot program (School Security Revolving Funding) would provide flexibility to every district. The funds may be expended on physical security enhancements for schools, including but not limited to SROs, ​cameras, gates, lighting, locks, doors, windows, security geofencing, and ballistic storm shelters.

With respect to School Resource Officers:

  • Any participating SROs shall complete training in active shooter emergency response training from CLEET and state-approved.
  • SRO is defined as someone who is​ a law enforcement officer with sworn authority and ​​training in school-based law enforcement and crisis response who is assigned by a law enforcement agency to work with schools.

 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this material does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice. All information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only.  

Readers of this material should contact their attorney or tax professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal or tax-related matter.  The information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.  

The views expressed are those of the individual authors writing in their individual capacities only – not those of their respective employers, any state agency, or committee/task force as a whole.  All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this material are hereby expressly disclaimed.  The content on this material is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is error-free.

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