Governor Fallin Signs Historic Teacher Pay, State Employee Raise Deal

Oklahoma students walkout in support of teachers

Several area school districts are meeting or have met to discuss if teachers will still walkout.

The extra revenue will go largely to fund an average $6,100 pay increase for teachers, who are planning to walk out of class on Monday. "Are these increases where they should be, given the lack of investment and cuts for more than 10 years?"

A package of tax hikes including oil and gas production to generate hundreds of millions of new dollars for teacher pay and avert statewide school closures has been given final legislative approval by the Oklahoma Legislature. Consumers will pay $1 more per pack of cigarettes. Lawmakers also plan to cap the amount of itemized deductions Oklahomans can claim on their taxes. "Today, they started dismantling it by cutting millions out of the plan".

If the school is closed in Guymon, officials told us buses will continue to run and the cafeteria will remain open.

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But Democrats say that's not what they agreed to, and that leaves the bill $50 million short. The association is calling for almost $1.5 billion in increased spending over three years. "We wonder why the public's frustrated with us", said Rep. Jason Dunnington.

"It was not easy getting here", Fallin said. "I feel like, the Cherokee people, we're a family and we're to take care of each other, and I think that's why my heart is for this".

Steven Rhoden, a paraprofessional in special education at an elementary school in Tulsa, told the World Socialist Web Site that teachers are not happy with the deal, and paraprofessionals and support staff would get little if anything. The nonprofit professional organization has almost 12,000 members. "I am anxious about them going hungry but I am also anxious about their futures".

Tinney said many Oklahomans would be thrilled to receive a $5,000 raise in a year.

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Under the Legislature's plan, the starting certified teacher salary will be increased by about $5,000 - from $32,600 to $37,759. The district said that although buildings will be closed, the district will use school buses to provide box lunches to students. Teachers there walked off the job for nine days in February and March, prompting the state legislature to fund pay increases for public employees.

The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), the states' largest teachers union, said that the wage hike is "a truly historic moment" but that it is "incomplete", CNN reported.

Advocates say low teacher compensation pushes educators out of Oklahoma classrooms and the profession.

Tens of thousands of teachers and supporters are expected to descend on the state capitol on Monday for the teacher walkout. The regional average was $48,450. However, some will head to the Capitol on Monday to hand out water and snacks and thank lawmakers. "Our school is about community and we take pride in that, but also our kids are very important to us and we are fighting for them".

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"It's only half of the teacher raise asked, one-quarter of the school funding asked, and two-fifths of the support staff funding asked", Morejon said Thursday on the Facebook page.

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