Morning Bell: Another teacher pay raise falls short
Good Tuesday morning. It's Election Day in many school districts.
But first, the state House defeated a series of tax hikes Monday that would have balanced the budget and funded a $5,000 teacher pay raise.
The vote: Needing 76 yes votes to pass, the vote was 63 to 35. Fifty-three of the 72 Republicans in the House voted for the package, as did 10 of the 28 Democrats. One seat is vacant.
What's next?: House Speaker Charles McCall said the proposal on the table was the only one that would be before the House this year. "I want to be clear," McCall said. "This is our best shot at a revenue package. There is not going to be another package considered. This was it."
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Budget cuts are the remaining option, House Floor Leader Jon Echols said.
Thousands of teachers and education advocates were at the Capitol Monday to lobby for the plan's passage. For many, the failed vote was another moment when a teacher pay raise push came up short.
"We shouldn't have to ask for one," said Durant High School teacher Roger McGehee, who was at the Capitol. "There are certain services in our state that we need that are necessary for the state to function. It's frustrating to me for us to even be here. We have to take time out of classes to be here."
Teacher pay in Oklahoma ranks near the bottom nationally and hasn't been raised in 10 years.
It's Election Day in some school districts, including Oklahoma City Public Schools where incumbent Ruth Veales is seeking a third four-year term as District 5 representative.
She faces Nichell Braddy-Garcia, 45, a former PTA president with a finance background, and Willie T. Kelley, 69, a retired teacher and coach who led the Douglass High School basketball team for two decades.
Candidates for two other positions on the Oklahoma City board are running unopposed. They are Mark Mann (District 4) and Jace Kirk (District 7).
There are also school board elections in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Edmond, Putnam City and Midwest City-Del City.
If no candidate in a race receives more than half the votes, the two candidates with the most votes will meet in a runoff April 3.
There are also a few school bond votes, including a $128.6 million bond package in Union for school construction, a football stadium upgrade and renovations to the district’s fine arts facilities.
“When someone asks what the key is to our success as an urban district … I think for us is we have to maintain dynamic programs for our kids, not just in the curriculum area, but also in the co-curricular area,” said Union superintendent Kirt Hartzler.
A bond proposal in McAlester would create a one-eighth cent sales tax, to provide funding for the McAlester Public Schools to construct a new early childhood center and to construct safe room and structures in existing MPS facilities to provide protection for students and faculty in extreme weather events, according to the ballot language. It would expire on July 1, 2033.
Here's a list of Oklahoma ballots.
A new superintendent
Lee Roland, retired former principal of Tulakes Elementary School in the Putnam City district, has notified Oklahoma City Public Schools board members of his interest in the district's superintendent job.
"I believe I can make a difference," he told The Oklahoman.
The district's superintendent position is open following the resignation of Aurora Lora this month.
Putnam City superintendent: Putnam City's board of education has unanimously approved re-employment of Fred Rhodes as superintendent of Putnam City Schools for the 2018-2019 school year.
Lawton students visit DC
Students from Lawton visited Washington and met with Sen. Jim Inhofe, which included a time of questions but not always answers.
Tate Michener, a high school senior, said he asked what Inhofe thought of the pay gap between men and women who performed the same jobs.
“He said he didn’t agree with the premise of the question, so he wasn’t going to answer it,” Michener told The Washington Post.
Dover opens new high school after fire
The new Dover High School presented a new beginning for a small-town school that burned down a couple of years ago. "I'm really amazed at how nice it is," said Wanda Beaman, class of '53. "And they used the same colors that we had when we were in school." (News9)
That's it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Tuesday.