(The Center Square) – A bill that would change the makeup of the Oklahoma State Board of Education passed the House Common Education Committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 2562 adds four new members, with two appointed by the House speaker and the Senate president pro tem, according to a news release from the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The new members must come from the state’s rural districts and include one former district superintendent with less than 10,000 students.
The change would increase the board’s size from six to 11. The current structure includes six appointees by the Oklahoma governor and the state superintendent of public instruction.
“I wanted the House and the Senate to have seats at the table where education decisions are being made that affect the entire state of Oklahoma,” said Mark McBride, R-Moore, chairman of the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee for Education. “And I wanted to ensure we are picking people with actual real-world public school experience. It’s imperative we have people who understand the unique needs of schools, students, parents and educators, particularly those from our smaller districts.”
The committee also passed House Bill 2678, which local board of education members from serving on the state school board. The bill is sponsored by Common Education Committee Chair Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon.
“State Board of Education members are often called upon to make decisions that affect specific schools in areas such as funding, accreditation status and many other things,” Baker said in a statement. “This just gets rid of any potential conflict of interest.”
The bills now go to the full House for approval.