Sen. Chris Kidd headshot

This week, I thought I’d go over the education-related laws that went into effect July 1st. Schools will be starting in the next month. While we don’t know what education will look like in the coming year, we do have some updates regarding these particular areas.

One of the major problems facing our education system is a shortage of teachers. To help address this problem and shrink classroom sizes, we approved SB 1125. The State Board of Education must now issue a teaching certificate to anyone with a valid out-of-state teaching certificate if they have a state and national criminal history record check on file. This also helps out-of-state teachers because they won’t have to take any competency exams as long as their local certificate is for the subjects and grades most closely aligned to those on their out-of-state certificate.

Another huge change that will help schools financially is HB 3964. This will keep schools from being penalized during this health crisis this year for excess carryover funds. Typically, districts are penalized by the State Department of Education if they exceed statutory funding limits continuously. This change takes into account that many have excess funds from lower utilities and transportation expenses.

Another new law focuses on protecting the health of students and guests at athletic or other school activities. Named after a Lexington middle school athlete who died from injuries suffered in a football game last year, the Riley Boatwright Act (SB 1198) requires school districts to provide emergency medical services at these events.

With all the uncertainty for school safety, many are considering swapping to the state’s virtual charter schools. While these changes won’t go into effect until the 2021-2022 school year, they’re still good to know. The Virtual Charter School Transparency and Reform Act (HB 2905) modifies transfers, redefines instructional activities, increases the number of assignments that must be completed each quarter, strengthens attendance policies and requires the creation and use of an orientation process for students and parents.

These and all the other new laws or bills passed this session can be found on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov.

In other news, if you still haven’t received your unemployment benefits, either traditional or self-employed, please contact my office and we’ll do our best to get you your benefits.

If you’re unemployed and looking for work, please visit www.okjobmatch.com, which is the state’s comprehensive job database. It’s free to use for job seekers and employers.

Cities and counties that have incurred additional costs because of the pandemic can apply for federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF). Reimbursement requests can be submitted during the first 10 days of each month at governor.ok.gov/crfgrants.

Finally, please don’t forget to fill out your census form. We need Oklahoma to have a 100% participation rate, so we get maximum federal funding for important government services like healthcare, education and transportation in the coming decade. An undercount of just 2% can cost the state $1.8 billion in lost federal money. Currently, the counties within Senate District 31 have an average participation rate of just over 47%. This is far behind the state’s average of nearly 57%, which is lagging the national average of more than 62%. You can be counted at www.2020Census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.

Thank you again for the privilege of serving our district and the State of Oklahoma in the Senate. If I can be of any assistance, you can reach me at (405) 521-5563 or Chris.Kidd@oksenate.gov.

 

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