LOFT Reports on State Department of Education

Ponca City Now - June 23, 2024 1:52 pm

Oklahoma Representative John Talley-District 33.

By Rep. John Talley

Now that the Legislature is in our interim period, members are developing their proposals for interim studies.

These studies are focused on a specific topic and bring in stakeholders and experts to present information and answer members’ questions. Holding these meetings during the months we’re not in session gives lawmakers an opportunity to take a deep dive into a specific policy issue or area of concern.

Proposals are due at the end of June, and the approved studies will be announced by the end of July. From there, members schedule studies throughout the summer and fall. All interim studies are open to the public, and you can always live-stream the studies on the House website.

After studies conclude in the fall, there’s time for legislators to draft legislation before the bill request deadline in December, and every year dozens of bills are filed as a result of study findings.

On Thursday, I attended a Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) meeting, where they discussed two reports related to the State Dept. of Education (SDE). LOFT was created in 2019 to act as a nonpartisan fact-finding operation to help the Legislature make data-driven decisions. The committee is comprised of 14 legislators from both chambers and both political parties.

LOFT’s first report evaluated the use of federal funds within SDE. Their analysis found that federal funds account for between 12% and 14% of all funding for Oklahoma public schools. LOFT also found that nearly half of the agency’s full-time staff is supported, either partially or in entirety, by federal funds. These funds are also used to cover various administrative costs, such as I.T.

The second report addressed SDE’s rulemaking authority on student testing. LOFT concluded that while there is no statute explicitly authorizing the State Board of Education to make rules related to testing, it is implicitly authorized to do so.

There was a detailed discussion about the findings, and LOFT staff plan to dig deeper into some of the questions and concerns brought up by committee members. They anticipate releasing those findings later this summer. Working drafts of the two reports from this week are publicly available at okloft.gov/reports, and I encourage you to review them if you’re interested in learning more about these subjects.

Before I wrap up this week’s column, I want to address the outcome of Tuesday’s primary election.

Running for office is a huge commitment and takes a lot of time, energy, and resources, and the people who have a heart to serve in this way are to be commended. The candidate we prefer doesn’t always win, but we can and should keep working together for the good of all Oklahomans. Even though I’m a Republican, I’ve always tried to serve all my constituents to the best of my ability.

While my time in office is limited, I want to promise two things: First, I will continue working hard during my remaining months in office. The constituents of House District 33 deserve nothing less. I am currently working with some of my colleagues on interim study requests, and I’ll keep you apprised of updates related to those meetings.

Second, after I leave office in mid-November, I will continue to work with the communities in Payne and Logan Counties just like I did before taking office. There is still more work to be done, and I love helping people.

Serving you at the State Capitol has truly been the honor of a lifetime. Thank you all for your kind words and support over the past week and throughout the last six years.

Please continue reaching out if there’s anything I can assist with. You may contact me at 405-557-7304 or [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.

 

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