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teacher pay

Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister discusses school issues during her interview for KGOU's Capitol Insider.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

In this bonus Capitol Insider interview, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley sit down with Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister to talk about education issues, including the state's revised A through F school grading system, teacher pay and four day school weeks. 

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

What happened at the Capitol this week?

No Teacher Pay Raise Bill Passed

Lawmakers did not pass a teacher pay raise bill, despite both the House and Senate saying they want to pass a measure.

Thursday was the deadline for bills to have passed both chambers, except for legislation that comes from the Joint Committees on Appropriations and Budget.

Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, who was supposed to introduce a bill on the Senate floor that would give teachers a $6000 raise over three years, did not introduce the bill.

Oklahoma state Rep. Charles McCall, right, R-Atoka, Speaker of the House, answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 13, 2017. McCall discussed the budget and teacher pay raises.
Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

 

 


 

What happened at the Capitol this week?

 

Oklahoma lawmakers are plugging away at a 2018 state budget--figuring out where the state’s money will come from and where it will go.

 

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Bills in the Oklahoma legislature faced a major deadline Thursday: they had to pass in their chamber of origin to continue through the legislative process. Bills affecting anti-discriminatory laws were not successful, but two teacher pay raise measures will move ahead.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

 

The Oklahoma legislature faces an approximately $880 million budget shortfall, and proposals to increase revenue have not gained traction. Meanwhile, the House passed a bill this week that would incrementally increase teacher pay.

Oklahoma Watch

State lawmakers are officially at the one-quarter point of this year’s legislative session after wrapping up four weeks’ worth of work.

So far only one bill – the Real ID compliance act – has made it through the Legislature and been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. And there remains plenty to do to find a solution to the state’s $878 million budget gap and tackle the hundreds of bills that remain at alive this point.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Among the deluge of bills filed by state legislators in advance of the upcoming session are more than two dozen proposals to boost teacher pay.

Teachers, disappointed by the defeat of State Question 779, which would have generated about $550 million a year for education through a 1 percent sales tax, say they’re counting on legislators to do more than just talk.

Joy Hofmeister, superintendent of public instruction, listens to a question from the audience during the "Oklahoma Watch-Out" forum on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
Ilea Shutler / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s state superintendent is asking legislators to give schools more money next year. Joy Hofmeister is requesting an increase of $220 million in funding, despite a projected budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, Hofmeister made her case for the additional funds to Oklahoma House members ahead of the legislative session that begins next month. She told lawmakers the additional money is essential to keep up with a growing student population and increased health care costs. She also says schools desperately need new textbooks, and new teachers need more professional development.

State Sen. Ron Sharp in his office at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A Republican lawmaker is calling for a tax increase, and a bill that would keep some further income tax cuts from happening.

State Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, wants his fellow legislators to consider a bill that would prevent automatic income tax cuts, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The State Board of Education released the newest A-through-F school report cards at Thursday’s board meeting.

Overall, grades were down this year. This year’s tally included 196 A’s, 455 B’s, 582 C’s, 319 D’s and 213 F’s. By contrast, in 2015, schools earned 212 A’s, 497 B’s, 536 C’s, 333 D’s and 183 F’s.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she isn’t sure why there's a dip, and said it would be irresponsible to make a guess, but her department will start digging through the data looking for answers.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma leads the nation in education cuts based on per pupil spending, and those cuts are nearly double those of the next-closest state.

A report out last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Oklahoma's per-pupil funding fell by nearly 27 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2017.

Video Breakdown: State Question 779

Oct 17, 2016

As KGOU and KOSU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

empty classroom
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma teachers haven’t received a statewide pay raise in eight years. But this November, voters will have a chance to boost teacher pay if they approve State Question 779.

It would fund the raises through a one percent sales tax. Education advocates say this could prevent teachers from fleeing the state, or the profession for better paying jobs. But opponents argue the proposal would create an entirely different set of problems.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Figures released Tuesday by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association show about $370 million would go toward teacher recruitment and retention if voters approve State Question 779 this fall.

Supporters say the 1 percent sales tax proposal would generate $615 million per year for common and higher education. Part of that money would be used for a $5,000 teacher pay raise.

Students rally against Oklahoma City Public Schools budget cuts in May 2016.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

A new statewide survey found that at least 2,800 public school jobs have been lost to budget cuts this year.

The survey, conducted by the Oklahoma State School Board Association, showed that 1,500 of those jobs lost were teaching positions and 1,300 were support staff.

The OSSBA conducted the survey during the first two weeks of August. Districts representing about 83 percent of the state’s public school enrollment participated.

Other survey results show:

Kevin McDonald, Edmond Memorial High School English teacher, directs the percussion session of the band during a practice in Edmond, Okla., on Thursday.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

State officials are considering what to do with $140.8 million dollars cut from state agencies in the middle of Fiscal Year 2016, but can now be spent. The money is available because General Revenue Fund reductions required by FY 2016’s midyear revenue failure were deeper than necessary.

Gov. Mary Fallin says she is considering using the money to fund teacher pay raises.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma midyear state budget cuts were deeper than necessary, and now the state has $140.8 million that it can allocate to agencies. Gov. Mary Fallin is considering calling a special session of the legislature to use those funds to give teachers a pay raise.

Parents and teachers attending the July 25, 2016 Edmond City Council meeting to support State Question 779.
Jay Williams / Twitter

The City of Edmond passed a resolution Monday night opposing a ballot initiative this fall that would raise Oklahoma’s sales tax by 1 percent to pay for education.

The tax hike would raise about $615 million per year for common and higher education in the state, but Edmond city leaders are worried it would hinder economic development. Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. where cities and towns rely on local sales taxes as their primary source of revenue.

Rodney Redus of Oklahoma City votes at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics polling location in Tuesday's primary. Only 47 voters had cast their ballots at the site as of 2:30 p.m.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The potential size of a so-called “teacher caucus” in the Legislature was significantly whittled down Tuesday after 20 current or former educators lost their primary battles.

Many of the candidates running on a platform of increasing state funding for public schools and teacher salaries were taken down by members of their own party and will not advance to November’s general election.

You can normally find Shawn Sheehan teaching math and special education in Norman, Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City. But school's out for the summer and instead, he's knocking on doors.

One-by-one he's asking voters in the state's central Senate District 15 to cast their vote for him. He's running unopposed in today's primary as an Independent, and after the polls close he'll know his Republican opponent.

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