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Oklahoma public school deregulation measures advance

The bills propose removing many unfunded state mandates. A House committee passed both measures.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: February 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm •  Published: February 26, 2013

A legislative committee Tuesday passed two bills that are intended to give public school districts more flexibility by removing many unfunded state mandates.

The measures are similar to a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009, but vetoed by then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat.

House Bill 2131 would eliminate many of the state mandates that are not required of charter schools, said Rep. Jeff Hickman, the measure's author.

It would take five years for the measure to take full effect; 20 percent of the state's 521 school districts would be switched over each year, said Hickman, R-Fairview. The state Board of Education would randomly select different-size school districts.

The House of Representatives Common Education Committee voted 17-0 to pass HB 2131.

Hickman said it's unclear how the bill would affect collective bargaining for teachers. It's not his intent to prohibit it, he said.

“Right now the way this is written it appears that if a charter school is exempted from collective bargaining, then public schools would be exempt from that,” Hickman said. “It doesn't mean that they have to. It means it would be up to the local districts to decide if they wanted to do that or not.”

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