House unanimously passes $1,200 teacher pay raise

    House unanimously passes $1,200 teacher pay raise<p>{/p}

    The House of Representatives passed a measure today that would increase Oklahoma teachers' pay.

    House Bill 1780, authored by House Speaker Charles McCall, would provide a $1,200 pay raise across the board for public school teachers in addition to the pay raise given to Oklahoma teachers during the 2018 legislative session.

    “Our goal is to get our teachers to the highest pay in the region, and this raise moves us closer to that goal,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “We have to address our teacher shortage, and that is going to take a multifaceted approach. Pay is one aspect of that approach. We need better pay to show our current teachers that we value their service, and we need to be able to encourage new teachers to enter the profession and retain those experienced, veteran teachers that we already have.”

    There are several other measures addressing the teacher shortage currently in the pipeline according to McCall.

    Those bills include a measure to provide a $1,000 tax credit for teachers that purchase supplies for their classrooms, a bill allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom at a higher salary, a bill substantially increasing the "in lieu of" amount for teachers that opt out of receiving the flex benefit allowance, and a bill that would allow districts to pay student teachers.

    Last year, the Legislature approve House Bill 1010XX, which provided an increase to the K-12 budget of nearly $500 million and funded pay raises ranging from a $5,000 pay raise for a first year teacher with a bachelor’s degree to an $8,400 pay raise for a teacher with 25 years of experience and a doctorate degree. The average pay raise last session was $6,100.

    Rhonda Baker, House Common Education Committee Chairwoman, said the focus of the House is getting more money into the classroom and improving student outcomes.

    “We need more teachers, and we have to show we value education so that more young people see teaching as a viable career option,” said Baker, R-Yukon. “This pay raise was a priority for House Republicans, and I am very pleased that we moved this bill through the process quickly. Our teachers still need more resources to teach our students, and I feel confident that we will build on that investment to the classroom we made last year.”

    House Bill 1780 passed out of the House by a vote of 94-0 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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