Oklahoma Senate passes bill giving millions to education

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ARDMORE, OK - At Lincoln Elementary, principal Ellen Patty said they only have one specialist to help students who aren't reading at grade level to catch up.

"Early interventions are of utmost importance in that if we can do that in first and second grade and have the staff to do that," said Patty.

Patty might soon have enough money to pay another specialist. A bill that would eventually give public education a $600 million funding boost passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday.

It would start adding $30 million to the state education budget this year and add $30 million every year after until they hit the $600 million dollar mark. The money would come from general state revenue.

Senator Frank Simpson said certain requirements must be met for the schools to get the money.

"The Board of Equalization has to certify that there's at least a one percent growth in general revenue before we do transfer that money," said Simpson. "So we've got to have economic growth for this to be successful."

Simpson said the bill would also add up to ten more days of instruction to the school calendar once the Department of Education starts receiving the full $600 million.

At Lincoln Elementary, Patty said that money would be well spent on additional technology and materials for the classroom, and that at the end of the day extra funding would help students learn.

"The lower student-teacher ratio that we can have the better for our kids because they get more one-on-one," she said.