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School board votes to back teachers' walkout

School board votes to back teachers' walkout

Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest education union, is calling on lawmakers to find $812 million in new revenue for the next fiscal year to fund raises for teachers, support staff and state employees.

On Monday, the Bartlesville school board continued its leadership role in responding to teachers' protests of low pay and a decade of state education funding cuts by unveiling a proposal it says would solve the state's school funding crisis.

Across the state of Oklahoma, teachers say they are fed up with empty promises from their legislators. Tax breaks for the oil and gas industry as well as for the state's top income earners have forced drastic cuts to the state's social services, including education.

"At least we finally have some sort of a context for what is going on", Amber Brand, teacher at Moore Public Schools said. If that doesn't happen, the teachers in LeFlore County and around the state plan to walk out.

This is how the discussion item will be presented to members of the Foyil School Board this. They're asking for $200 million in funding for the operational budgets of schools.

That's $1.4 billion in new funding over three years.

While Bartlesville unveiled its plan and authorized its superintendent to shut down school, other districts gave their chief executives authority to do the same, setting the stage for thousands of students to be out of school when and if there's a walkout.

The Oklahoma State School Boards Association estimated that 25 percent of all school boards in the state were meeting Monday night and that many were considering what to do in the event of a walkout.

Students told the board what it's like in overcrowded classrooms. But the legislature has chosen over and over again to not fund education.

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The board voted unanimously to support the walkout, if lawmakers don't take action.

"The Muskogee Public School Board has joined with the OSSBA in a collaborated effort to attract a pool of quality, qualified applicants to select our next superintendent of schools", said school board President Keith Biglow. "But if they don't get behind us there are going to be a lot of really upset teachers".

"Attached is a resolution that, if approved, encourages the Oklahoma legislature to find a dedicated source of revenue that can be utilized to fund a much-needed reoccurring salary increase for public school teachers and other school employees in Stillwater and Oklahoma", according to the board packet. It failed to get the necessary votes in the legislature, though.

In Bartlesville, board members and residents acknowledged what was at stake - not just a walkout but also the broader fate of education in the state.

A number of districts around the metro and across the state have begun throwing their support behind teachers and staff who could walkout April 2 if state legislators do not pass a teacher and staff pay raise, and restore education funding in the state.

"Please know that every teacher that I teach with does not want to walk out".

Jennifer Marsden, a third-grade teacher at Overholser Elementary, said she would like to see more support from her school board.

"We are fiftieth in the nation for teacher pay per expenditure, down in the bottom", Priest said.

"I have zero faith the Legislature will meet the April 1 deadline".


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