Groups on either side of a bill setting up a separate school system that receives state dollars have two weeks to reach an agreement to present to education committee members.
Senate Education committeemen unanimously agreed to bring Senate Bill 66, which creates and funds Oceti Sakowin community-based schools, back on Thursday, February 14 in order for the two groups to further discuss the bill and how it could be made to work for each.
SB 66, which prior to an amendment referred to the system as the Oceti Sakowin charter school, would allow the proposed school to seek sponsorship either the state Department of Education or a school district, enter into a contract with either specifying further details and add the school to the state aid fall enrollment count based on its sponsor. Any district sponsoring school district would pay the Oceti Sakowin community-based school an equal enrollment portion of the sponsor schools total funding.
ASBSD is opposed to the bill due to concerns related to the creation of new school system that could call into questions its constitutionality, the governance structure of the system and its use of state dollars and potential to take funding away from a local public school district.
“There’s really the possibility of a constitutional challenge. It (Oceti Sakowin community-based school) becomes a separate system,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany, adding that based on the way SB 66 is written it is “exempting that school from almost all the state laws.”
Pogany noted the state Constitution calls for uniform system of public schools that follows the same laws as others, but SB 66 states “the charter school is exempt from all laws governing the administration and delivery of public or nonpublic education in this state” unless other provisions are included within the contract that establishes the Oceti Sakowin community-based school.
In addition, Pogany raised concerns of the governance structure of an Oceti Sakowin community-based school as those factors are not clearly defined within the bill, but rather would be included in the contract with a sponsor and may not be uniform for each proposed school.
Finally, Pogany noted the proposed school system would be “funded with public dollars” as it is included in the fall enrollment count that determines the apportionment of state aid for public school districts, which are required to “follow all the laws” of the state while this new system would be exempt based on the bill’s language.
“Once you step outside of those state laws, like the (Oceti Sakowin community-based school) would do, then you’re not uniform (public school system),” Pogany testified.