State Senators gave approval Tuesday to a $339.1 million boost in public school funding, including the largest teacher pay raise in seven years. By a 41-5 vote the Senate sent Senate Bill 1644 by Senators Susan Paddack and Stratton Taylor to the House for consideration.
Senate Bill 1644 includes a $3,000 across the board increase for all teachers in Oklahoma; doubles the annual salary increase incentive for teachers who complete the rigorous National Board Certification process; and increases in the annual stipend paid to mentor teaches and teachers with masters degrees and doctorates.
Oklahoma began an effort two years ago to raise teacher salaries to the regional average. SB 1644 will give that effort a substantial boost.
“Bringing teacher pay up to the regional average is long overdue in Oklahoma, but that average is a moving target. If we are ever going to get there we need to take this bold step now,” said Taylor, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education.
Paddack said SB 1644 recognizes personal responsibility and accountability among educators.
“Teachers who are willing to invest their time and energy to better equip themselves to educate our children by earning an advanced degree or achieving National Board Certification will be rewarded with a significant pay increase,” Paddack said.
The bill raises the annual stipend for teachers with masters degrees from $1,200 to $4,200 and for teachers with doctorates from $1,200 to $6,200. Currently teachers who earn National Board Certification receive an annual salary increase of $5,000. SB 1644 increases that stipend to $10,000 and the annual stipend for mentor teachers to $1,000.
The measure also includes:
A pay increase for school support personnel;
An increase in funding for early childhood programs for children with special needs;
And up to $15 million in state and private funding for an innovative pilot program for additional early childhood programs.