BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - There’s a potential court battle over a long-running mistake in how school funding was distributed, and now Bartlesville Schools seem likely to join to try and recover lost income.

Bartlesville could be the first district in our area to file suit.

The state acknowledges miscalculating school funding for 22 years; the question is by how much. In Bartlesville, the estimate is a loss of possibly $200,000 for every one of those years.

Monday, the Bartlesville school board heard plans for a possible lawsuit, seeking the return of several million dollars in taxes intended for local schools, but instead distributed by the state to other districts.

"That would be the reason why, if we do choose to join the lawsuit would be to bring that money back that our local people intended to go to our students in our district," said Superintendent Dr. Terry Quinn.

Five school districts - all in central Oklahoma - have joined forces and plan to take the case to a judge. All of them figure they have lost millions of dollars over the last two decades, and the only resolution will be in court.

School board president, Doug Divelbiss, said, “And they're asking other districts that might not be impacted as much, but still significantly, to help support the legal cost of getting the issue resolved.”

For Bartlesville, that's $1,500 in fees to start with, but the potential payoff is 100 times that at least.

The uncertainty is how the state would collect the overpayments to other districts, so it would have the money to give back to Bartlesville.

Quinn said, "But there would be losers in this situation too. That's one of the things of school funding, when one school benefits in the funding formula, another school loses."

The school board hasn't decided to join the lawsuit; they seem likely to make that decision at their next meeting in January.