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“This bill isn’t about pay raises at all. It’s about respect,” Teachers prepare for statewide walkout

CACHE, Okla. - Teachers across Oklahoma are preparing to participate in a statewide walkout on Monday over teacher pay and school funding.

HB1010XX, signed into law Thursday by Governor Mary Fallin, funds an average $6,000 pay increase for teachers along with money for support staff and textbooks. Teachers with Cache Public schools tell News 4, they're grateful for the pay increase but the conversation on public education cannot stop there.

Liz McDonald, who teaches at the Cache 5th & 6th grade center, said she's mostly concerned about proper funding for the schools.

"I’ve seen here at our school that we have very high class sizes," said McDonald. "The intermediate, the class size is about 30 students to one teacher. I just feel like that is too many kids but here in Cache, we haven’t been able to hire more teachers because we’re not getting enough funding to hire more teachers."

Like McDonald, middle school teacher Wendy Deiorio said she plans to drive to the State Capitol on Monday to fight for her students.

"This bill isn’t about pay raises at all. It’s about respect," Deiorio. "I want to teach. I want them [students] to learn. I want them to challenge them. I want them to go out in the world and be more successful than what I could ever dream to be, but I can’t do that with 35 students in a classroom."

Stacy Robinson, who teaches at Cache Intermediate, credits the community for supporting Cache teachers.

"The beautiful campuses, all that you see here, it is due to our communities supporting us. Not our state," Robinson told News 4.

Brittain Nowak, who teaches English at Cache High School, said students will ultimately suffer without the proper funding.

"The part of the funding that hurts the high school the most is that we are not able to offer electives for these kids that they deserve. For example, we don’t have a speech and debate class, drama, creative writing," explained Nowak.

Speaking with reporters this week, Senate leadership admits the work is far from done.

"Particularly with the operations and support expenditures as well as a plan in the out years to keep moving in the right direction. I wish all of those things were in the bill," said Senate minority leader John Sparks, D-Norman.

When asked whether the teachers will participate in the walkout beyond Monday, we're told it will be determined day-to-day.