Oklahoma Teachers Could See More Money, School Days, Soon

Monday, January 26th 2015, 11:00 pm
By: Tess Maune

A pay raise could soon be in store for Oklahoma teachers after State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister introduced a plan Monday to increase pay to meet the regional average.

The extra money, however, comes with extra expectations.

One teacher said she was happy to hear about a potential raise, but realizes the raise will cost her a little something too.

Just after 6:30 Monday night, the sun had set and the students were gone, but the work day for first grade teacher Nikki Jones was far from finished.

“My car wasn't the only one in the parking lot. This is pretty much the voice of teachers across the state,” she said.

Jones has been teaching for three years and stays late several nights a week, not because she has to, but because she wants to.

“Our contract time is 7:35 to 3:10,” Jones said. “I became a teacher because I wanted kids to be able to learn for life.”

Jones said she knew going into education that her paycheck would never be too big.

The average salary for an Oklahoma teacher is $44,000, but that could all change with a five-year plan Hofmeister unveiled Monday.

“You have two reactions. You have the 'Yay! About time, we're gonna get some pay increase.' And then you have the 'Hmm, that's weird, I wonder what it comes with,' Jones said.

Hofmeister wants to give teachers a $5,000 raise. She said increasing salaries is critical to addressing a significant teacher shortage in Oklahoma - there are about 1,000 vacant teacher positions statewide.

1/26/2015 Related Story: Hofmeister Proposes A Pay Raise For Oklahoma Teachers

Jones said there are pros and cons to the proposal.

The extra income is the pro. The con is that it would come with five additional days of instruction time to meet the national average.

“It's hard to call something a raise when you're adding work days, that's sort of like compensation for time. But, it's also $1,000 a day type raise,” Jones said.

Just because Hofmeister proposed the raise doesn't make it official, it still needs approval from the legislature and the governor.

If the proposal passes, teachers would get the first $2,000 - and two additional school days - as soon as next year.