Barresi: Politics keeps teachers from pay raise
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Superintendent says politics is keeping our state’s teachers from getting a pay raise.
Janet Barresi believes a $2,000 raise for every teacher is very affordable because she says there is a record high of $771 million in “carryover” funds – unused education money.
But Barresi says the liberal education establishment opposes her.
However, the State School Boards Association says a raise is just not sustainable, and carryover funds are a safety net to guard against state and federal funding cuts.
“It sounds simplistic to say we could make a payment from the carryover fund,” Julie Miller, Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said, “but in actuality, it would be like a family trying to pay their electric bill out of a savings account. It’s just not something that’s sustainable.”
“Teachers get bonuses when their districts decide to award them,” Barresi said. “So you can call this a stipend or a bonus. That’s just legal equivocating. We’re focused on teachers.”
But Miller said one-time financial bonuses aren’t allowed under the state constitution.
Republican State Rep. Lee Denney said it’s not a partisan issue because she also believes carryover money shouldn’t be used for pay raises because it’s used to fill funding gaps at the beginning of the school year.