State Question 801 in Oklahoma Worries Fairland, OK Superintend - KOAM TV 7

State Question 801 in Oklahoma Worries Fairland, OK Superintendent


State question 801 would change Oklahoma law to allow ad valorem or property based tax dollars to be used not just for buildings but overall operations deemed necessary by a school district.

Mary Dushane, who teaches family and consumer science in Fairland, Oklahoma is on the fence about state question 801. She wants to vote yes, so funds could be used for salaries but said,  "I feel like teacher pay  shouldn’t take away from the building."

If approved  State Question 801  would allow a school district to use ad valorem tax dollars, which are now restricted for buildings and maintenance, to be used for operations and general fund costs including   paying teachers.
In Fairland, there are no big industries to generate lots of property tax revenue. The district gets about one hundred thousand tax dollars in its building fund, according to the superintendent  and uses them all for maintenance.
Superintendent Mark Alexander explained, "We have no carry over. We spend it all. We would not have any extra money to put in our general fund because our building fund doesn’t generate it."

The superintendent believes the change would  only widen the gap between rich and poor school districts making it even  more difficult for poorer districts to  keep teachers.

 Alexander said,  "If they (richer districts)  are allowed to take those extra dollars and instead of building lavish buildings and things,  they’re allowed to take those dollars and put them in teachers salaries,  then districts like ours won’t be able to compete.   We won’t be able to  compete for the best teachers, and won’t be able to keep the best teachers.  Once we get them here, they go down the road and get more money."
Dushane agreed, "We already see that  now. There’s schools around this area that pay their teachers more just because of tax dollar base. Grove, Commerce, Miami all pay more than what we do."

Alexander added, "It essentially creates a system where  a child’s education  may be worth more in other districts than it is in ours."

Dushane wishes the city could get more tourism industry to generate more tax dollars. And  said the Fairland district does a good job on maintenance. Which initially made her consider voting yes.

Dushane said, "I’m wishy washy. I’m trying not to be." She and others will decide November 6th.

State question 801 is one of five questions Oklahoma voters will decide in November.

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