State Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan announced today that the Senate will consider a nearly $2.4 billion public schools appropriation on Wednesday. The measure includes a record $204.3 million in new funding for common education, including a $3,000 across-the-board pay raise for state teachers and an increase in the incentive pay for teachers who achieve National Board Certification.
“It is important that our public schools know how much money they are going to have available next year as they begin the process of renewing teachers’ contracts,” Morgan said. “That was the purpose of the ‘Education First’ bill I authored three years ago. The House can accept the Senate amendments to House Bill 2165 and the Legislature will have met its statutory obligation.”
In addition to the largest teacher pay increase in seven years and a boost in incentive pay for National Board Certified and mentor teachers, House Bill 2165 includes:
An increase in funding for early childhood programs for children with special needs;
$5 million in state funds that will be combined with private matching funds to provide $15 million in funding for an innovative pilot program for additional early childhood programs;
An $80 a month salary increase for full-time school support personnel;
Restoration of cuts made in Fiscal Year 2002 to the Alternative Education Program;
Additional funding for the SoonerStart program to replace federal budget cuts;
And additional funding for the parents as teachers program and the testing required by the Achieving Classroom Excellence initiative.
“This legislation will speed up the work the Legislature and Governor Henry have done in the last two years to improve the education system in Oklahoma. It’s more than just taking the next step toward reaching the regional average. It’s time for public schools in Oklahoma to take a giant leap forward and that’s what we’re proposing in this bill,” said Morgan, D-Stillwater.
Oklahoma began an effort two years ago to raise teacher salaries to the regional average.