Sallisaw School teachers have told school officials they will be walking out on April 2 if the State Legislature does not find money for education.
Scott Farmer, Sallisaw School superintendent, said he has surveyed teachers in the system and, while not all have yet replied, the majority have responded they will walk out if funding is not found.
Farmer said, “These teachers are not beating their own chests (asking for a pay raise). It’s not ‘all about me.’ The teachers who are talking to me, the big part is funding education, funding for more electives, buses without 200,000 miles, etc. If the teachers decide to walk out, I can’t blame them.
“I want to make this clear,” Farmer emphasized. “I will support our teachers in a walkout.”
Farmer said a plan is in the works for the school system if teachers walk out but he is not ready to release that information yet.
Farmer said, “No one wants to see a walkout. We’ve had phone calls and have heard concerns from our patrons. We will continue to communicate with our teachers and move forward.”
He said most Sallisaw teachers do not belong to the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) but have indicated they will support the OEA walkout if it occurs.
The OEA released the following demands on Thursday afternoon.
The union wants over the next three years:
-a $10,000 teacher pay raise, including a $6,000 raise in 2019;
-a $5,000 pay increase for full-time support professionals such as school secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, etc., including a $2,500 raise the first year;
-$200 million to restore public school funding;
-$213 million for state employee pay raises, which is $71 million each year for the next three years; and
-$255.9 million in additional health care funding during the next two years which would be $234.6 million in 2019 and $21.3 million in 2020.
The OEA did not identify specific revenue sources. OEA officials said the legislature has seen several plans over the last two years that have included dozens of options.
Farmer said his own research shows that Oklahoma education “has taken a beating over the past 10 years.”
He said, “Education has a lot of funding streams. The largest is state aid. If Sallisaw Schools state aid was the same now as it was in 2009 we would have $811,000 more. We are getting $6.8 million now. That would be an increase to $7.6 million.”
Farmer said, “We need to fund education in an appropriate manner.”
Other school superintendents in the county did not wish to comment on the intent to walk out to support education funding.
State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw), contacted at the state capitol in Oklahoma City, said he did not wish to comment on the teacher walkout at this time.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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