Pryor Public Schools Are awash in education money. The state has shut off the tap to them and 70 other school districts who are thriving. The economy of Pryor is booming, along with the Mid America Industrial Park, situated just to the south of the city.
In the early days of of the Oklahoma territory, townships and enclaves formed a collective for the cause of educating children. It was called a "school district". It was designed to be isolated from politics and other governing matters.
But eventually the entities decided to have county governments oversee the collecting of property taxes for education, so that school board meetings could be free of the task of collecting education taxes.
When Alfalfa Bill Murray presided over the territorial Constitutional Convention, the consensus led to a guarantee that the state would make sure every corner of the state had at least some school district covered. That stipulation led to a presumption that the state had to make sure each district was adequately funded. Hence the backup funding that we now have.
Local school district fully funded their own education for decades. But eventually some state resources became quite common. And state regulations on education content were mandated along with those dollars.
Today, every Oklahoman has this assumption that the state has the duty to fund all public common education. But that was never statutory law.
Local taxpayers vote for increases in education when they see that their local schools are responsible in the use of those funds. this is the genius of local funding. I might raise the taxes to see my kids get better teachers, but no so much when I see that money go to the other end of the state and get wasted by folks who don't feel as accountable for "outside money".
If Bill Murray could ever have imagined the scenario of the state education budget taking up half the entire appropriated treasury, he would have outlawed the possibility of any state dollars being used for such a local responsibility.
Read more on the 70 truly independent school districts of Oklahoma, at Fox23.