Some Oklahoma classroom budgets may be a little smaller in the coming school year thanks to an action taken by Governor Keating this month. The governor ensured that more money would be drained out of public school classrooms when he vetoed SB 496 - legislation that would have required schools to pay state-imposed fines for paperwork violations out of their administrative budgets.
Senator Jeff Rabon, author of SB 496, said that Governor Keating's veto is more likely to punish school children than it is the people who made the paperwork error.
"If we're going to fine schools for paperwork violations, we should at least mandate that they take the money out of administrative overhead, not out of the classroom. We shouldn't be punishing students simply because their school made an error on its paperwork," said the Hugo legislator.
State law allows the State Department of Education to fine school districts that do not file financial transaction reports in the form prescribed by statute. SB 496 stipulated that fines be waived for only the 2000-01 school year and that any future penalties be paid out of a school
district's administrative budget.
Senator Rabon said his legislation was designed to protect classroom budgets not just for the current year, but for future years as well.
"We tried to put a safeguard in the law to guarantee that those funds were protected, but thanks to the governor's veto, classroom budgets are in jeopardy. Governor Keating always talks about cutting administration and getting more money into the classroom, but in this case, his actions don't match his rhetoric. He's made it more likely that money will be taken away from teachers and students," said Senator Rabon.
According to figures from the State Department of Education, 25 school districts were fined a total of $341,000 in Fiscal Year 2001.