Oklahoma Senate passes bill allowing students to transfer between any district year-round

Oklahoma lawmakers debated and passed a bill Tuesday that would allow students to transfer between any school district year-round.

The bill has been a work in progress for some time, with supporters arguing it gives parents the freedom to choose what school they think is best for their child. Opponents claim it does nothing to help struggling schools and the students who stay there.

“You can shop where you want. You can go see any doctor you want. You can go to church wherever you want. You can go to college wherever you want. But, by golly, if you live in a neighborhood that happens to have a school that can’t serve you and your kids, too dang bad,” state Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, said.

Pugh is pushing to open the transfer bill that says districts would set school capacities but could accept transfers up to that level.

Currently, most transfers are only allowed at a certain time of year, and there are many exceptions. This bill would lift a lot of those.

Democrats argue struggling schools would lose students and would get no help making things better for the kids who remain.

“Most school districts are operating very lean right now – 80% to 90% of their overhead is salaries for their staff,” state Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, said. “So, I’m concerned when we’re looking at things like this, we’re removing those supports that school districts need in order to keep class sizes small.”

With strong Republican support, the bill was approved 32-15.

“I’ll be honest, it doesn’t make the wide, sweeping changes that I would like to see,” said state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. “But this is something that the author has worked on with many members to make this a positive change. This is a positive change.”

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