In The Know: More charter school funding fallout | Lawmakers scrap changes to OHLAP | Earthquake settlement

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Charter school funding fallout: Sand Springs, Lawton, Yukon among first districts to consider additional legal action to oppose settlement deal: Local school leaders across the state have begun asking their boards of education to authorize legal action against the Oklahoma State Board of Education for striking a deal that could shift tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to charter schools. Over the strongly voiced objections of State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and against the advice of its own legal counsel, the state board split 4-3 on March 25 in voting to settle a years-old lawsuit by the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association seeking an equal share of revenues from Oklahoma’s gross production, motor vehicle and rural electrification association tax collections, state school land earnings and county tax collections. Such a settlement would reallocate revenue that currently flows only to traditional public schools. [Tulsa World]

  • House to get legislation addressing issues raised by State Board of Education charter schools decision [Tulsa World]
  • Sand Springs school board votes to sue state ed board over charter school funding [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers scrap controversial clawback provision in Oklahoma’s Promise bill: An Oklahoma House panel removed language in a proposed bill that would have penalized college students in a state-funded scholarship program if they don’t graduate within six years. Senate Bill 639 by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, previously sought to mandate that Oklahoma’s Promise recipients who don’t graduate within six years repay their scholarship funds. [The Oklahoman]

Coronavirus in Oklahoma: The Latest: 226 new infections of the coronavirus were confirmed in Oklahoma on Monday, for a total of 440,022 since March 2020. In the past seven days, Oklahoma has reported 2,19 new cases for an average of 310 infections per day. Oklahoma’s Provisional Death Count, which reflects COVID-19 deaths based on death certificates, now stands at 7,961. That’s an increase of 29 from Friday. [KOSU]

  • Choctaw Nation to offer COVID-19 vaccines to public [AP News]
  • Chickasaw Nation has COVID-19 shots for you [The Journal Record]
  • Experts: COVID-19 pandemic should ease, but annual booster shots may be needed [The Oklahoman]
  • Dr. Douglas Drevets, OU Infectious Diseases Chief, speaks with KWGS about new vaccine PSA campaign [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Oklahoma announces $25M settlement over earthquake claims: Oklahoma’s attorney general and state insurance commissioner announced Monday a $25 million settlement with Farmers Insurance over the company’s handling of earthquake claims. [AP News] An investigation revealed that Farmers denied or failed to properly pay approximately 1,000 earthquake claims submitted by Oklahomans who purchased coverage to protect their property, according to Hunter’s office. As a result, the company will reopen the claims process and re-evaluate the claims using an independent administrator, according to Hunter’s office. [Tulsa World] Farmers could have to pay more later based on the independent administrator’s determinations. It also could get money back. In a statement Monday about the state’s consumer protection case, it continued to deny wrongdoing. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt announces supply chain initiative for manufacturers: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday announced the launch of Supply Chain Oklahoma (SCO) in an effort to provide critical resources to Oklahoma manufacturers. The first key piece of the initiative is “Connex Oklahoma,” a free online database tool developed by the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance (OMA) in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. It allows manufacturers to connect, find alternate suppliers, explore production capabilities and view their supply chain visually. It also helps manufacturers identify single-supplier risks and find opportunities for diversification in their supply chain. [Tulsa World]

Measure requiring seat belts for children in back seats fails: Despite bipartisan support, a measure that would have reinstated a controversial child seat belt law stalled in a House committee. Up until 2016, Oklahoma had a law requiring children ages 8 and older to be buckled up while riding in the back seat, but supporters of the requirement said lawmakers repealed it and they have been pushing for five years to get it reinstated. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

Column: Lawmakers consider ideas to improve children’s lives: This week, I want to write about some of the great ideas for children being considered by Oklahoma’s representatives and senators. The job of a lawmaker is often tough; fortunately, there are many advocates and activists who are experts in their respective fields who provide input and ideas. [Joe Dorman / Enid News & Eagle]

Editorial: Legislature turns blind eye to choke-hold bill and other police reform proposals: As the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer accused in the killing of George Floyd captures the nation’s attention, a Tulsa lawmaker wants to know why the Oklahoma Legislature won’t even talk about a proposal to ban choke holds on suspects. [Editorial Board / Tulsa Word]

Transportation officials urge caution from drivers during Work Zone Safety Month: The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is asking drivers to prepare for the spring and summer construction season. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal Government News

Lucas talks COVID-19, elections, more at Rotary Club meeting: Congressman Frank Lucas spoke at the Rotary Club of Enid’s meeting Monday, discussing COVID-19, U.S. House committees, election laws and more. Lucas, first elected in 1994 to represent Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District, just recently returned to public events, saying Enid is part of his “maiden voyage” back into the world. [Enid News & Eagle]

More than 20 Fort Sill soldiers suspended in investigation: Multiple news agencies are reporting that 20 or more soldiers have been suspended pending an investigation into a sexual assault on Fort Sill. The Intercept, an online publication that launched in February 2014, and the Army Times first reported Department of the Army law enforcement are investigating reports of multiple assaults against a female soldier by 22 service members. [The Lawton Constitution] The soldier, who was a trainee at the time of the alleged assaults, formally reported them on March 27. [The Intercept]

Criminal Justice News

Trust to stay in charge of Oklahoma County jail, for now: Oklahoma County commissioners have voted to leave a trust in control of the troubled jail. The commissioners voted 3-0 Monday not to dissolve the trust despite the staffing shortage and other ongoing issues at the 13-story facility just west of downtown Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

  • County Commissioners give reasons for staying with Jail Trust for now [Free Press OKC]
  • Jail Trust Chair says rumor is not true that CEO Williams is being fired [Free Press OKC]

Oklahoma County commissioners approve sheriff’s department reality show: Less than a year after television shows Live PD and COPS were canceled amid criticism that the programs were exploitative and racially insensitive, Oklahoma County commissioners approved a contract this morning for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office to be featured in a reality series that will chronicle the department’s day-to-day activities. [NonDoc] The company wishes to produce a television show about the Sheriff’s Office apprehending “wanted persons.” [Free Press OKC]

  • Oklahoma County sheriff’s idea for television show draws backlash from community [KOCO]

Economy & Business News

Tribes deliver big economic lift to Oklahoma communities: There’s something a leader whose ancestors were driven from their homes wants others to understand about Oklahoma. “This is our home,” said Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, the largest tribe in the U.S. “There’s not a risk that we’re going to move somewhere else.” Nearly two centuries have passed since the Indian Removal Act forced tribes from their ancestral lands and moved them into present-day Oklahoma. Since that upheaval, the tribes have rebounded to rebuild their lives, businesses and governments. [The Oklahoman]

Experts: Renewable energy fits in Oklahoma: The growing reliance on renewable energy sources like wind and solar is good for everyone, but the Biden administration’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2035 is unrealistic, a panel of energy executives said last week during the latest JR Now webinar. [The Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

‘We don’t have a tribal wikipedia’: Kiowa struggle with pandemic loss, but remain vibrant: In February, the United States passed the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. The pandemic has hit Indigenous communities particularly hard. In some tribal nations, the virus has taken first language speakers and the culture bearers who hold knowledge that marks the tribal nation’s identity. That’s especially true for the Kiowa Tribe in Southwest Oklahoma. [KOSU]

Euchee tribe struggling to become federally recognized as its own tribe: When the Euchee (often spelled Yuchi) tribe made first contact with the European colonizers, the members were located in settlements in eastern Tennessee, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. During the remainder of the 1600s, they traveled to the southeastern United States and established settlements neighboring the Creek Nation in Georgia and Alabama. [Gaylord News / The Norman Transcript]

Cherokee Nation marks start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month with new victims services facility: Cherokee Nation on Thursday opened a new Tahlequah facility for its ONE FIRE Victims Services program, corresponding with the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Like the drum, Native American women are the heartbeat of their Oklahoma communities: When a Native American woman realizes the power of her voice and her passion, she can never be silenced. Although Native American women represent 6% of Oklahoma’s population, this small group of women carry generations of traditions, culture and knowledge that have ensured the survival of Native American identities since the beginning of colonization. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Insolvent insurance? Oklahoma Schools Risk Management Trust could dissolve: The Oklahoma Schools Risk Management Trust, a self-insurance pool that provides property and casualty insurance for public school districts in the state, recently sent an email to its 78 member districts saying the program needs an additional $850,000 in order to operate for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year, the cost of which will fall on the backs of these districts. [NonDoc]

Report: Pandemic will have ‘long-lasting ramifications’ for Oklahoma higher education: COVID-19 could lead to a long-term drag on Oklahoma colleges’ and universities’ finances, according to a state legislative watchdog’s report. The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency cited a University of Southern California study from July 2020 that found one in five students were changing their plans to earn a degree on time. Senior Project Manager of Financial Operations and Change Management Zach Sumner said the same study found Asian and Latinx students were far more likely than white students to say they wanted to take fewer classes or that coronavirus affected their decision to re-enroll. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Legislative Watchdog Gives Oklahoma Higher Ed High Marks On Coronavirus Relief Spending [Public Radio Tulsa]

TPS sending $414 million bond to voters in June: Tulsa Public Schools will be asking voters this summer to approve a multi-year bond proposal. At Monday night’s board of education meeting, the board voted unanimously to send a five-year, $414 million bond package to voters on June 8. As approved by the board, the bond package contains four propositions. [Tulsa World]

University of Tulsa selects ex-congressman as next president: Attorney and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Carson has been selected as the University of Tulsa’s 21st president, university officials announced Monday. The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously selected Carson, 54, after a national search that began in July. Carson’s term officially begins on July 1. [AP News] Currently, he’s on the University of Virginia faculty, teaching courses in national security and the public sector. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma voters heading to the polls for state Senate race, local elections [KFOR]
  • SD 22 candidates pursue unconventional paths to victory [NonDoc]
  • Eight Tulsa area school board seats, 1 bond package on Tuesday’s ballot [Tulsa World]
  • Cleveland County voters to decide on Ward 3, Board of Education positions Tuesday [The Norman Transcript]
  • Oklahoma elections: Voters head to the polls April 6 in McLoud, Maud, Meeker and Prague [The Shawnee News-Star]
  • 93 year old caps 51 years on Millwood school board [The Oklahoman]
  • Stillwater recovers reserve funds spent as natural gas prices spiked [Stillwater News Press]

Quote of the Day

“We hope the issue is resolved at the state level without the district needing to file a lawsuit, but the district has a responsibility to look out for the best interest of its students. Our hope is the courts will uphold the state constitution and ensure that when Lawton residents pay property taxes, those taxpayer dollars will continue to support students in Lawton Public Schools.”

Quote of the day from Lawton Superintendent Kevin Hime on seeking legal action against the Oklahoma State Board of Education for striking a deal that could shift tens of millions of taxpayer dollars away from traditional public schools and to charter schools. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s per pupil spending, the lowest among its six neighboring states.

[Source: Oklahoma State School Boards Association]

Policy Note

A Windfall, Teacher Shortages, and Uncertain Enrollments Shape Next Year’s K-12 Budgets: The last 12 months in the U.S. have seen a devastating public health crisis, a turbulent economic recession, and a severe enrollment loss. Any of these factors on their own would complicate the annual effort to determine a school district’s fiscal priorities for the next year. Taken together, they’re shining a spotlight on historic inequities in K-12 spending and unearthing daunting new challenges that schools will be facing for the foreseeable future. [Education Week]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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