A record $2.4 billion public schools appropriation bill was approved in the State Senate Wednesday on a bi-partisan 43-2 vote. The amended version of House Bill 2165 includes a $3,000 across the board raise for state teachers and an increase in incentive pay for teachers who achieve National Board Certification.
Passage of the amended version of House Bill 2165 comes ahead of Saturday’s statutory “Fund Education First” deadline. It includes $204.3 million in new funding for Oklahoma’s public schools.
“Passage of this bill will bring the salaries of Oklahoma’s teachers much closer to the regional average. It accelerates the work the Legislature and Governor Henry have done in the last two years to improve the education system in Oklahoma. It’s time for public schools in Oklahoma to take a giant leap forward and that’s what we’re doing in this bill,” said Morgan, D-Stillwater.
“A major increase in teachers’ salaries is long overdue. If Oklahoma is ever going to have a chance to reach the regional average we need to take this bold step,” said Senator Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore. Taylor is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education and the major architect of the legislation.
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.
The plan calls for increasing the amount paid to teachers who pass the rigorous national board certification tests each year from $5,000 to $7,500 in Fiscal Year 2006. In Fiscal Year 2007, the bonus would increase to $10,000.
The annual stipend for mentor teachers would be increased to $1,000, as well.