A bill proposed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives would combine administration of school districts with fewer than 500 students.
The bill is being proposed by David Dank (R-Oklahoma City) and he says the bill is not calling for school consolidation.
“It’s not school consolidation or school restructuring because I have a proviso in there that those schools will be shut. The schools will rise and fall on their own merits,” he said.
He said the bill would combine smaller school districts and set up parameters for this combination.
“It’s an attempt to get a handle on the 530 school districts we have in the state and the overhead that constitutes,” Dank said.
Dank said he’s not trying to hurt small towns or communities and he’s included clauses in the bill to ensure the students at the combined schools will still be able to participate in extracurricular activities. He said the bill is an attempt to save money in the budget shortfall while making the school districts more efficient.
“We want to educate youngsters, not pay bureaucrats,” Dank said.
Representative Todd Thomsen of Ada said, with anticipated budget shortfalls, he expects several bills dealing with school district consolidation or restructuring.
“(Consolidation has) been kind of a taboo thing to talk about but because of the budget crunch, it makes it a little bit easier for some members to bring up,” Thomsen said.
Thomsen said he hasn’t read Dank’s bill or know his intent. Dank said text of the bill would be available some time next week.
“I’m going to be really guarded about the direction that some people are going to want to take, especially if they come from Oklahoma City,” Thomsen said. “I’m not sure they have too many model schools that we need to model ours after.”
Thomsen said he is concerned about using blanket criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of individual schools.
“We have some small schools that are really quality models for education and we have some really large schools that need a lot of work,” he said.