OKLAHOMA CITY – After years of asking lawmakers for a teacher pay raise, it seems that the teachers are ready to take action.
The Oklahoma Education Association is seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
OEA announced that it is tentatively planning a teacher walkout for April 2 if legislators don’t increase teacher and staff pay.
“Our goals remain the same- to force the legislature to pass a plan that provides teachers and support professionals a significant pay raise, and restores critical funding to our classrooms,” said OEA President Alicia Priest in a video posted to the union’s Facebook page. “We will not allow lawmakers, once again, to shortchange our students, our teachers and our support professionals.”
While many school districts across the state say they support their teachers, they are also working to come up with a plan for families during a potential walkout.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma City Public School District sent a note to parents to alert them of the plan beginning April 2.
“Oklahomans have also made it clear that we must address this critical issue. The time is NOW for our legislators to act and we hope they do the right thing by working toward a resolution to this issue without any interruption to the remainder of the school year. We support our teachers in this because our state has cut the funding we need to serve our children by over 28% in the last decade, far more than any other state in the nation. Our students deserve better,” the district said.
District leaders say that although schools will be closed, there will still be help for families in need.
“With 46,000 students and families across more than 130 square miles, planning to care for our students and their families during the indefinite cancellation of classes is a massive undertaking for OKCPS. Although our buildings will be completely closed to students during a walkout, OKCPS will provide grab-and-go box lunches throughout the district using school buses. A comprehensive plan for the daily lunch pick-up locations will be shared with families when we return from Spring Break. We are working with our partners to address needs for our career-tech students, seniors preparing to graduate, Athletics, special events, and many other issues. We are also working with local community partners and faith-based organizations to connect you with other services and resources such as childcare during the walkout. The good news is that our community is embracing our students to give teachers time to advocate,” the letter to parents read.
Officials say the district is prepared to use four instructional days that do not need to be made up. If the walkout lasts longer than those four days, the district will either increase the minutes of future instructional days or add additional days to the calendar.