Edmond School Board joins over 100 school districts in lawsuit against Oklahoma State Board of Education

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EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Edmond’s school board has decided to join more than 100 other districts considering possible legal action against the Oklahoma State Board of Education. 

This comes after a decision was made by the state board in March, requiring property taxes to be split evenly between public and charter schools. 

“We were all just a little shocked, ” said Bret Towne, Superintendent, Edmond Public schools.

Superintendent Towne says the district relies on property taxes for their building fund.

“Public schools do pay for a lot more things that charter schools don’t have to,” said Towne.

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He estimates the district could lose more than $600,000.

“You know out of the building fund we’re paying you know custodial expenses, we’re paying maintenance expenses, a large part of this is our utilities, property insurance,” he said.

He says the only way to recoup that cost will be to take money out of their general fund, which goes to things like teacher salaries and student expenses.

“There are winners and losers in this and we think at this point you know that the law is clear that this was not an action that should have taken place,” he said.

State School Board Member, Trent Smith was one of four board members who voted in favor of the decision to settle a 2017 lawsuit filed against the board by the State Charter School Association.

Smith says the decision ultimately came down to money.

“If it were to go to court and the department were to have lost that lawsuit the charter schools would have been eligible to receive over 20 years of back pay,” said Trent Smith, State Board of Education member.

Smith hopes new legislation called the Redbud School Funding Act will help some schools by creating dedicated funding streams for those that receive little to no building revenue. This legislation did not exist when he made his vote, leaving it all up to chance.

“It was a little bit of betting on the come. We were taking a leap of faith,” said Smith.

The State Education Department estimates the bill would generate nearly $39 million in revenue if the bill had been in place this year.

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