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House Bill 2640

HB 2640 is a bill that would revamp the funding formula for Alt Ed. At first glance, it looks like the bill that died last legislative session, but it's actually quite a bit different.

First -- why does the formula need to change?  Well, Alt Ed programs are currently funded based on 1994 numbers. It hasn't been updated in the past because it's a difficult thing to do. Everyone wants Alt Ed programs to have funding stability and to have the incentives in the right place. If the 1994 formula was used and just updated each year, we would lose stability and the incentives would be wrong (for example, if you reduced your dropouts, your funding would be cut).

So, nobody wanted that to happen, but there was always this little problem in changing the formula -- what to do about programs that would lose a lot of money when it changed. We have worked with the SDE since 2000 to try to solve this problem, and it is solvable -- but there's a catch: It would take about $3 million to hold everyone harmless, to make sure that every program gets at least as much next year as it had this year.

This year, there's an agreement to put that $3 million into Alt Ed and fix the formula. The new formula will be simpler and more stable -- it will be based on district size and district poverty. Our research over the years has shown that those are the most reliable indicators of the size of the alternative programs in Oklahoma.

There's more detail in the bill, so I will post again with more details next week. Feel free to post your questions here or to email us.