Oklahoma Teacher Pay Raises In Jeopardy
TULSA, Oklahoma - Oklahoma teacher pay raises may not come to pass due to an effort to roll back the tax increase that was set to fund them. Schools are writing teacher contracts for next year and for now they cannot tell teachers if they'll get a raise or not.
Just weeks after the walkout ended, the promised teacher pay raise could soon be put on hold. The group working to veto the taxes for the pay raise say they're starting to gather signatures, looking for crowds at outdoor festivals like Rooster Days.
“I will definitely not sign it,” said Ann Ramirez one supporter we spoke with at the festival. The petition drive could put the raise on hold and leave schools without the funding to pay for raises for part of the year according to Shawn Hime of the State School Board Association.
“If the signatures are collected and they put the tax increase bill on hold, then schools would lose approximately 27% of the pay raise.”
It's led the State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister to ask the Attorney General for clarity on what's happening - so school districts will know what to do.
"We see we're in flux again when it comes to teachers and the stability they need to be able to say I'm going to stay in Oklahoma and I want to be here. Some of them have to make decisions before some of this will be known,” said Hofmeister.
Adding to the confusion since the walkout, a teacher’s union filed a protest against the veto referendum. The Professional Oklahoma Educators calls the veto referendum "unconstitutional, legally insufficient & invalid". While schools districts are looking for legal answers, the teachers go into summer uncertain of what's ahead.
“I'm hopeful we can get this stopped before it ever starts so our teachers can be assured of a pay raise from day one,” said Hime.
To see a list of frequently asked questions on the Veto Referendum Click Here