Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Putnam City board resolves to close schools for one day

Putnam City board resolves to close schools for one day

The Oklahoma Education Association has called for April 2 as the day for a strike if state legislators don't come through with a series of school funding requests, including teacher pay raises.

Business, community and civic organizations, and some educators came together last month to support a plan known as Step Up Oklahoma, which would have funded $5,000 teacher pay raises.

The town hall came hours before the district's school board is set to hold a special meeting Wednesday morning to discuss and likely approve a resolution supporting a salary increase for its teachers, compared to surrounding states, and increasing school funding for districts across the state.

People with other state agencies including law enforcement and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association said they'll stand alongside the teachers in this fight.

It borrows revenue stream ideas from earlier legislative proposals and advocates for variations of proposed tax increases that have previously left legislators deadlocked.

"Bartlesville knows a little bit about oil".

"I think what's going on right now is you've got the teachers unifying, the community behind us", said the high school Oklahoma history teacher and tennis coach.

Marshall, the recipient of the 2017 Teacher of the Year award for her school district and a statewide Teacher of the Year finalist, earns less than the average annual salary for teachers in the state. They're asking for $200 million in funding for the operational budgets of schools.

"It's time to stop playing politics", Broken Arrow school board President Steve Allen said. But the legislature has chosen over and over again to not fund education.

After more than 20 speakers, laughs, tears and applause the board voted unanimously to give the president authority to cancel school for the walkout.

Muskogee School Superintendent Mike Garde said he heard from the Oklahoma Department of Education.

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Union Public Schools voted without dissent to allow its superintendent to shut down school for up to 25 days. "We want to be in the classroom", said 11- year Union Music Teacher Sam Loney.

Teachers across the state are threatening to walk out of classrooms and force school closures starting April 2 unless lawmakers find a way to increase state spending by almost $1.5 billion. It failed to get the necessary votes in the legislature, though.

The lack of investment in education also extends to students.

The Oklahoma Education Association is seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.

Many of those teachers have already gotten the blessing to do so from administrators. "We have compromised our way into a crisis".

Many school board meetings throughout the state have had increased attendance this month as educators and the public rally to support increased education funding.

"That's one of the issues we're still working through", he said.

"I knew what I was signing up for when I became a teacher".

"I have zero faith the Legislature will meet the April 1 deadline".

"Something needs to happen", she said.

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