OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – All five board members present at Thursday’s meeting voted to approve the $3.5 billion budget.

In it, the board asks for $5,000 pay raises across the board for all teachers.

“We’ve got to be competitive and attract and keep great teachers,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The raise would add $309 million to the budget.

Hofmeister said there is also money for district to hire more support staff.

“They can hire more school counselors, but they can also give an increase to the support staff,” said the State Superintendent. “Those are bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, those who are working with special education students, as well.”

Oklahoma ranks fourth in our region when it comes to average teacher salary. The current number is around $54,000.

Map that shows teacher pay averages of Oklahoma and surrounding states

That number might look misleading to some because starting salaries are around $36,000.

The state’s average includes a few other factors:

  • benefits from the state including, health and dental
  • a range of salaries from first time teachers to more experienced teachers
  • all personnel with teaching certificates including, administrators and principals

Superintendents are not included in the average count.

After a $5,000 increase, the average would bump up to $59,000.

Hofmeister wants this pay raise to make Oklahoma shoulder-to-shoulder with other states in the region, but she also wants to bring more educators back to the classroom.

The State Department of Education presented statistics on the number of teachers that have active certifications but are not in the profession.

“We have seen a continued increase in emergency certified teachers, which is only happening because a qualified applicant with the certification isn’t found,” said

33,000 teachers are not teaching.

In 2018 and 2019, when teachers received their last pay raise, more teachers came back to classrooms.

Hofmeister also explained that a pay raise for next school year could prevent teachers from retiring because the new salary would help their retirement packages.

The budget is now headed to state legislators for approval.