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Oklahoma distributes $38.5 million for charter and traditional public schools from Redbud fund

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma
El Reno Public Schools is one of more than 330 school districts that received funds from the Redbud Schools Grants program.

More than $38 million of medical marijuana tax revenue was given to hundreds of school districts around Oklahoma last week to pay for infrastructure improvements.

The effort is part of the new Redbud Schools Grants program.

The Redbud program works like this: If a school district — traditional public or brick and mortar charter — receives below a certain threshold of local property taxes, it’ll receive a block of money to equalize it with other, wealthier districts.

“These funds are a victory for thousands of Oklahoma schoolchildren being educated in public school districts and charter schools across the state,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said in a written statement. “These funds will ensure that students, regardless of district, have building spaces that meet their needs through renovations, maintenance and additional facilities.”

The money will be distributed to more than 330 traditional public and charter school districtsaround the state.

The funds came after Oklahoma’s State Board of Education voted to approve the settlement of a lawsuit with a charter school association that had sued the state over its lack of infrastructure improvement funds.

The settlement last April equalized building funds for charter and traditional public schools from the state. At the time, more than 100 traditional public school districts expressed interest in suing the State Board of Education due to the settlement.

But the settlement was ultimately nullified by Senate Bill 229, which passed with immense support.

"This was common sense legislation that creates parity for districts where tax valuations are lesser than in others," Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, and architect of the measure, said in a news release. "Students in these districts have the same needs as in all others, whether in textbooks, technology, other classroom materials or quality programs that help further their education and prepare them for life beyond the classroom."

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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