The Oklahoma State Capitol (File photo)

With a new school year on the horizon, it’s worth looking at some of the new laws that will impact education across the state.

The start of the 2022-23 school year marks the implementation of a change to the school funding formula passed by the Legislature in 2021. The measure bases a district’s state aid (a significant source of school funding) on the current or prior year’s student count, whichever is higher.

Previously schools could go back two years, if needed — a provision meant to stabilize budgets for districts experiencing a drop in enrollment.

Another bill from 2021 that relaxed the state’s school transfer policies could have a broader impact this school year. Under the law, schools can’t refuse a student transfer in most cases if they have space available. It went into effect Jan. 1, halfway through a school year and with teacher contracts already in place.

Demand for the transfers could increase in the summer. Schools are required to post the number of seats available four times a year, on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1 and Oct. 1.

Oklahoma made national headlines with a new law that went into effect in May, requiring students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms that match the sex on their birth certificate. The law applies to all K-12 public schools and charter schools.

Schools are required to provide a “reasonable accommodation” such as a one-person restroom to students if necessary.

Opponents of the law say it’s harmful to transgender students, who are especially vulnerable to bullying and discrimination. Previously, school districts were allowed to make their own bathroom policies.

Two bills addressing the teacher shortage went into effect July 1. House Bill 3564 creates an incentive program, awarding scholarships of $1,000 to $2,500 to students studying education who agree to teach in a public school for at least five years after graduation.

House Bill 4388 directs funds from the lottery into a revolving fund to boost salaries of a district’s most advanced, lead and master certified teachers. It will not receive the necessary funds this year, according to the Education Department.

Under Senate Bill 1671, students in grades 6 through 12 will receive education about the Holocaust. The Education Department is required to develop age-appropriate resources for the lessons.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please reach out via email or DM.

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • An NBC affiliate in northeast Oklahoma used our database of ACT scores to write a local story about the highest achieving schools in the area. [KSN 16]
  • The Arizona legislature approved the nation’s largest school voucher program despite voters’ loud and clear rejection of such a plan in 2018. [Washington Post]
  • A team of computer scientists and designers built a tool to optimize school zoning maps for racial integration. They were able to reduce segregation and shave time off students’ commute to school. [The Hechinger Report]

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