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Okla. Senate OKs Power Shift to School Boards (Mar 13, 2012)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Individual school districts would be able to ignore most statutory requirements under a bill that has narrowly passed the Senate.

The Senate voted 25-17 on Tuesday for the bill that faces fierce resistance from public school teachers. A bill needs 25 votes to pass the Senate.

Bartlesville Republican Sen. John Ford says the bill will give local school boards more power over their districts by allowing them to be exempt from most statutory mandates. Districts would have to seek an exemption from the state and still would have to comply with minimum salary and benefit requirements for teachers and basic curriculum requirements.

But Democrats opposed the measure, saying districts would have the ability to hire and fire teachers based on the whims of the school board.

Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton says there are already three deregulation laws allowing schools to opt-out of mandates and exercise local control. Hampton says the bill could cut the pay of 70 percent of Oklahoma teachers, and eliminate collective bargaining and sick and personal leave.

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