OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A proposed law for the 2023 legislative session seeks to change who can be appointed to the State Board of Education and how they can be appointed.
It’s a school board shuffle of sorts with one lawmaker saying he wants to see more diversity.
“This bill expands the board of education to include a mix of lay people and people with experience and expertise,” Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Oklahoma City, said.
According to Fugate, he proposed HB 1903 after a recent state school board budget meeting.
“Four of the six appointees were brand new, and we had a $3.3 billion budget being proposed,” he said. “The entire conversation took less than 30 minutes. There were, I think, seven questions that were asked. Frankly, it’s appalling that members had no idea about the things that are already going on.”
The bill seeks to expand the state school board from seven to 15 members.
Right now, six members are appointed by the governor, with the state superintendent being elected as the seventh member and serving as chairperson.
These rules were put into place by lawmakers over a decade ago.
“We had exactly the same problem then that we have today,” Fugate said.
The bill still allows the governor to appoint six members, but there are some conditions.
No more than three could belong to the same political party.
At least one would represent private schools, another would represent home schools, and another would represent charter schools.
The school board must also include some members with school-aged children and certified teachers.
Those last eight members would be appointed by leaders of the house and senate, the state school board members, along with various teacher’s associations and the state regents for higher education.
“When the governor was looking for somebody to replace him at Gateway Mortgage, he brought in an insider, somebody with years of experience. He didn’t bring in somebody from the restaurant business or somebody from tourism, for instance. He brought in somebody who understood mortgages.” Fugate said. “Having a mix of educators and lay people on that board allows all sides to be represented.”
The members would also be subject to varying term limits.
You can read the bill in full below.
We reached out to the governor’s office for comment. We were told they do not comment on pending legislation.
We also reached out to the state department of education, but as of the posting of this article, we have not heard back.