Compromise on teacher pay raise?

Ponca City Now - May 8, 2019 1:52 pm

Rep. Ken Luttrell, a Republican, serves District 37 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Kay and Osage Counties.

By Rep. Ken Luttrell

Whether to fund a $1,200 teacher pay raise has been the biggest debate in Oklahoma’s legislative budget negotiations: The House wants a pay raise across-the-board for all teachers, while the Senate would prefer all new dollars go through the state funding formula.

As budget negotiations have progressed, a proposal that would give some district superintendents an option to use those dollars differently has been discussed as a potential compromise.

By amending or removing “Section G” from the HB 1780 teacher pay raise language, districts paying teachers more than the statewide mandated minimum salary could choose to use new dollars to add support staff or reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers, among other options.

Rep. Ken Luttrell, (R-Ponca City) says, “I favor mandating the teacher pay raise across the board. We must not only attract new teachers but also retain those experienced in the classroom,” but he explained the proposal, which he said originated in the Senate.

“Local superintendents would have the choice of allocation. It doesn’t add $1,200 to their base pay. The superintendents would have the choice whether they want to increase the pay or put it into something else. However, there is no guarantee those funds would go to teacher salaries. I believe the Legislature can deliver an across-the-board teacher pay raise and still provide districts more dollars for new teachers or other initiatives.”

Oklahoma has 512 independent school districts, and 337 of them currently use the state minimum teacher salary schedule, according to State Department of Education.

The other 175 districts, which pay their teachers more than the state minimum, would have the option to raise teacher pay or invest elsewhere in their schools.





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