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Oklahoma teacher walkout costs the state thousands of dollars each day

According to OMES, it costs about $15,000 a day to cover the maintenance expenses for the teacher walkout. (Caroline Vandergriff/KOKH)

The massive crowds at the Oklahoma State Capitol for the teacher walkout require additional security personnel and maintenance expensives.

The movement is heading into day seven and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Until we have something on paper, in writing, that our classrooms are funded – we are here,” said Andrea Sampley, an Edmond teacher.

Unsung heroes behind the scenes, from the Capitol grounds crew to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, make the walkout possible.

“I know that every trooper I’ve talked to, they’ve got kids in school,” said James Pratt, an assistant principal in Edmond. “They’re proud to be out here.”

The staffing and the upkeep isn’t cheap, though.

The maintenance is costing the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) about $15,000 a day.

“The $15,000 goes into basically repairing the grounds, the janitorial service, and having to pull additional staff from other parts of the Capitol complex and bring them in to aid the normal staff we have here,” said Shelly Zumwalt with OMES.

The money comes from the OMES budget.

“At this point, we’re taking it day by day,” she said.

FOX 25 repeatedly asked for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s number to figure how much it costs to have state troopers at the Capitol every day, but they have not responded with an amount yet.

The Oklahoma Education Association is footing the bill for the stage, A/V equipment, permits, buses and porta potties. The union couldn’t say just how much those items add up to in cost.

A GoFundMe page is raising money to help cover the teachers’ lunches and buses.

“I know it costs for us to be out here, but we need to fund our classrooms,” said Sampley. “It costs us not to be out here because our students are hurting. Our classrooms are hurting.”

Teachers say the cost will be worth it if the walkout forces the legislature to come up with a lasting solution to the state’s education funding problem.

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