Live video: Day 20 of Oklahoma opioid trialUS in the World Cup quarterfinals after 2-1 win over SpainStarting next week, Oklahoma drivers must carry registration. Here's how to get one if you need a duplicate.

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Morning Bell: Demands made, strike date set

Advertisement

Good Friday morning. 

Well, it's official. The Oklahoma Education Association announced its terms on Thursday, challenging the state Legislature to raise over $800 million this year for pay raises, school funding and other services. If the demands aren't met by April 2, teachers will walk off the job.

The OEA is seeking a $10,000 pay raise for all Oklahoma teachers and a $5,000 pay raise for all school support staff, such as custodians, secretaries and food service workers.

The OEA is also calling on lawmakers to increase public school funding by $200 million and for $255.9 million in additional health care funding.

The OEA is also seeking $213 million for state employee pay raises. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association has joined the cause and is also considering a strike. 

You can watch the entire press conference from OEA here

What's next? Now we wait to see how the Legislature responds. House Speaker Charles McCall said he remains committed to a teacher pay raise, but the OEA's ask is much higher than anything the Republican leader had likely envisioned. 

From Oklahoma Watch, signs of headwinds emerged quickly, foreshadowing a political stalemate that could pit hundreds of educators against a Legislature that has repeatedly quashed attempts to raise revenue for teacher pay raises.

“I am 100 percent in favor of giving Oklahoma’s teachers a pay raise, but I am absolutely opposed to taxing Oklahomans excessively in order to pay for that raise,” said Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield.

Members of the state Board of Education questioned whether a teacher strike was the best solution. Some board members said school districts should do more to increase teacher pay

“Salaries are not set by this board,” said board member William Flanagan. “School districts have resources. It’s time for ... superintendents to stop blaming everybody, teachers blaming everybody, blaming everybody in the Senate and the House."

Board member Leo Baxter said school districts should look for local ways to fund pay increases, whether it be diverting money from other sources or even looking at a sales tax.

Lawmakers look to give schools more options with property tax

Oklahoma lawmakers have advanced a measure that eventually could let school districts use property tax revenue for operational costs, like teacher pay raises.

Property tax, which is known in the law as ad valorem tax, is used within schools primarily for building funds. The author of Senate Joint Resolution 70 said it instead could be diverted to teacher pay and hiring additional staff.

"I want those school districts to have the ability to utilize some of their ad valorem dollars for operating expenses," said state Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City. "That does not mean they would not be also utilizing them for building or infrastructure costs, but this would allow them the flexibility to also utilize it for teacher salaries."

Bill on healthy relationship education advances

A bill its author said gives school districts the option of incorporating "consent and healthy relationship education" into professional development, and to develop "rape or sexual assault response" procedures made it through the Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesday, reports the Tulsa World

The bill was approved despite objections from conservatives who said it could lead to the distribution of contraceptives to minors and promotion of "LGBTQ and transgenderism."

Police arrest student with gun

Police have arrested a teenager who fled U.S. Grant High School on Thursday morning after dropping a backpack with a loaded gun inside, authorities said.

No shots or injuries were reported. The former student, described by police as a 16-year-old boy, ran from the school, 5016 S Penn, after being spotted on campus, reports The Oklahoman's Tim Willert

Carl Albert band instructor arrested 

A Carl Albert High School band teacher was arrested Thursday, accused of soliciting sex from what he thought was an underage girl.

Jason Ott, 31, reportedly made contact through social media with an undercover agent from out of state posing as a young girl. Authorities said he sought to have sex with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Donations to benefit arts education in OKCPS

An Oklahoma City developer and his wife are donating $160,000 to extend and expand a partnership that brings arts education to schools with limited budgets, officials said.

Arts Partnership for OKCPS helps identify schools with no art programs and aligns art agencies with these schools so that students are exposed to visual arts, theater, dance and music.

The donation by Richard and Glenna Tanenbaum, announced Tuesday at Pierce Elementary School, will allow the program to expand from eight schools to 17 schools in the 2018-19 school year.

That's it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great weekend!

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

Comments