The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday night passed a historic bill to raise a variety of taxes and revenue to give teachers a raise before a threatened walkout on April 2.
The $447 million revenue bill must pass the Oklahoma Senate and be signed by the governor in order to stop the walkout. As of Monday night, the Oklahoma Education Association said all of their demands are not being met.
The bill that passed will provide a raise for teachers, support staff and public employees. It will do it through an increase in the cigarette tax, hotel/motel tax, gasoline and diesel taxes, and a five percent increase to the controversial gross production taxes (from the current two percent).
Meanwhile, as the days tick closer to a possible walkout, the community of Luther is preparing for the possibility that the teachers, under contract, will walk out for a chance to increase their pay. Josh Smith with Opus Entertainment is planning activities for kids, the school will still provide lunch, and other daycare providers are making room.
Luther schools are closed this Friday for Good Friday.
Superintendent Barry Gunn sent a letter home last Friday outlining the district’s plans. He also told The Luther Register that this is the only chance teachers may get to increase their pay.
I’m concerned, the majority of our teachers don’t want to leave the kids out of the classroom. So what worries me for them is they’ll take an offer thats not good. They need to understand communities and people don’t want to hear you gripe about public education for the next 20 years. There won’t be another raise until your kids, your personal children become teachers. The public is supporting you now, whatever you take and go back to work, be prepared to live with,” said Mr. Gunn.
Gunn said they have a tough time filling teacher positions in Luther and believes teachers are not well-compensated.
“They are basically working poor, but college educated and pay student loans like everyone else. I do feel like education as a whole is not valued in Oklahoma. Doesn’t seem valued or a priority,” he said last week.