Posted Date: 06/15/2022
Dear Public School Patrons and Voters,
I hope to frame or at least add some perspective to an issue that should seem important to anyone with kids or grandkids in public schools. The state house was the thin wall between public schools and losing a great deal of funding through school vouchers in Oklahoma's most recent regular legislative session. Local state representative elections are extremely important if you care about this issue and sustaining a level of funding for our public schools. I am not writing this about a specific candidate. I am appealing to the consideration of parents and guardians in districts like Lexington where it is likely that a voucher would not make enough of a difference in an average family's financial ability to send their children to a private school, while the funding mechanism for that voucher would drain dollars away from maintaining or expanding programs, having the needed teacher quantity and quality, and striving for adequate facilities. It is true that it is difficult to look at all Oklahoma public schools through one lens. Even with a mostly fair state funding formula, high tax-yielding industries within a district's borders can make a sizable difference in local funding. Many school leaders already stretch budgets to be as equitable for all public school children as possible. Doing so in an environment where we can see more funding diversion in the form of vouchers on the horizon, just as the cost of everything rises, is enough to cause serious alarm. I would be remiss not to mention that legislators have indeed accomplished some positive things in recent years for public school finances, making an investment after a decade-long funding drought. Even more the reason to not erase the progress with a policy that really doesn't work out for anyone when you weigh intentions and impact. A very high percentage of private school seekers already have the means to secure the experience they desire. And as I mentioned earlier, most who might consider private education because of something they feel their public school lacks are not only going to remain in public school because a voucher won't be enough but will now see their public school lose resources that could be used to solve the issue. A public school does not collect per-student funding for any child not enrolled there. Voucher funding would go beyond that and begin to reduce the budgets public schools already rely on for operations. Please use your energy to engage your local public school and its leaders with results-oriented discussions as you think necessary and your votes to tell state house members that you stand with those among them that will continue to rightfully separate private endeavors and public funds. Please do not ignore local senate races and how they address this issue either. However, with every state house seat on the ballot every election cycle those races are where voices will resound the most. I hope you can add your voice.
Superintendent, Lexington Public Schools
Proud Public School Graduate and Parent