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Oklahoma legislation authorizing statewide virtual charter school challenged

The measure contains an amendment, which violates a constitutional prohibition on placing multiple subjects in a single bill, a lawsuit filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court contends. The amendment requires the state Education Department to spend $30 million on textbooks for public schools.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: November 1, 2012
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“It violates two constitutional provisions,” Fent said.

Lawmakers had to scramble the last couple days to find a way to appropriate money to pay for textbooks for public schools.

The $6.8 billion state budget that legislators approved the final week of the session was said to contain $33 million for textbooks for public schools, but several legislators were disappointed to hear that state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi told Board of Education members on the second-to-last day of the session that she planned to use $11.5 million of the $33 million allocated for textbooks for other purposes.

The state House on the last day of the session passed SB 1816, which included language requiring the state Education Department, which received a $2.3 billion allocation from legislators, to spend $30 million on textbooks for public school districts. Some members were uneasy voting for the measure because the bill also authorized a statewide virtual charter school, a measure that barely passed earlier when it received the minimum 51 votes needed for passage. With the textbook funding amendment, the bill passed 84-10.