News 9 - March 11, 2024 5:40 am

Lawmakers want to clear up the confusion with the state’s teacher bonus program.

In January, some teachers were told to pay back $50,000 in bonuses because they didn’t qualify.

But a new bill that passed the House this week would give money in installments.

The law would be called The Return to Teach Signing Bonus Act, and would reward teachers who left the profession but then came back into the classroom.

Representative Mark McBride wrote the bill and says this way, teachers wouldn’t have to worry about giving the money back.

“I knew last year when they were talking about this teacher signing bonus that this was going to be a problem,” said Rep. McBride. “You don’t just give somebody $50,000 up front.”

The qualifications are at least three years of experience and not having worked in an Oklahoma public school for five years.

They also have to agree to be a full-time public school teacher for at least five years.

“It’s a common sense approach to doing it,” Rep. McBride said. “If you decide not to teach the next two years or something, we’ve only paid you $7,000, we didn’t pay you $50,000.”

“This is building on the success of the greatest teacher recruitment program in the history of the state,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters. “I want to expand free market solutions to make Oklahoma schools the best they can be.”

McBride says he is happy the State Department of Education was able to recruit 500 teachers to come back to the classroom, and thinks this legislation will help work out the kinks.

“I’m a builder and I deal in contracts and other stuff and people are vetted,” Rep. McBride said. “They expect to be vetted and I want to keep things like this from happening in the future.”

If the bill passes the Senate, the teachers would be paid on September 1st of every year, or within 30 days of the first day of school, whichever is first.


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