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House approves bill to give former teachers a bonus to head back to Oklahoma classrooms

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that gives former teachers an incentive to head back to the classroom has passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

It is no secret that Oklahoma is in the midst of a teacher shortage.

According to a 2018 report, the number of Oklahoma educators leaving the profession has increased over the past six years to almost 30,000.

In December, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association said nearly 5,000 more teachers were needed across Oklahoma to match the average student-teacher ratio in the region.

Last session, then-Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that raised teachers’ salaries and added $50 million to education funding. However, experts said it did little to restore the education funding that had been cut for nearly a decade.

Now, Oklahoma lawmakers are trying to attract teachers that left the classroom to go back to Oklahoma public schools.

House Bill 2645 allows public school districts to offer a one-time incentive bonus payment to certified teachers who return to the profession within the school district.

In order to receive the incentive, the teacher would need to hold a valid certificate that has not expired, and must have not been employed by a public school for at least two years. Also, the teacher would have to have left their previous job in good standing.

Under the bill, a teacher that receives the bonus must agree to teach in the district for at least three years.

The bill passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives 96-1.

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