Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Teachers Rally for Funding, Not Raises, Farmer Says

Teachers gathered in the rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol Tuesday
to rally for an increase in funding for education.

In response to questions from school patrons, Sallisaw School Superintendent Scott Farmer said Tuesday that the school’s teachers are not rallying at the capitol in Oklahoma City for more pay. They are rallying for their students.

“The teachers are taking a beating about their pay raise,” Farmer said. “They are rallying for the funding of general operations.”

The state legislature and governor approved a $6,000 pay raise for teachers last week.

Farmer said Sallisaw School’s budget has been cut by about $1.8 million since 2009. That has resulted in the loss of 39 employees, because, as people quit or retired, the school system did not have the funds to replace them.

That resulted in larger class sizes, limited Advanced Placement classes, a scale back to the elementary school transition program, and cutbacks in some electives such as driver’s education.

“We want to make sure the patrons are getting the right message,” Farmer said. “This has nothing to do with raises. The teachers want to see a revenue stream they can trust.”

Farmer said those in education don’t want to tell the legislators how to fund education, they just want it done.

“It’s time we reverse course and start funding education for our children,” he said. “The teachers are walking out for the kids, not for their pockets.

“It’s the job of the legislature to decide how to fund core services,” Farmer said. “Just do it.”

Sallisaw Schools, Farmer said, has 141 teachers and 98 support personnel. Student enrollment is 1,997.

“Do your job!” Farmer said to legislators. “You must do your job and find the money to support our kids. Fund our schools. How you do it is up to you.”

Farmer said he is polling the teachers, and will decide on Wednesday if classes will convene on Thursday and Friday, or not. Parents will be informed when that decision is made.

He explained that Sallisaw Schools has nine snow days built into the schedule, and students may not have to attend additional make-up days, depending on how long the walkout continues. 

He also explained that teachers sign a contract to teach 182 days.

“Every day a teacher misses, they will make up,” Farmer said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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