Schools Chief Pushes $5,300 Pay Raise for Teachers

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Nate Robson

Nate Robson

Jan. 26, 2015

Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister called for a $5,300 pay raise for Oklahoma’s teachers Monday, but stopped short of suggesting ways to cover the projected $150 million expense.

Hofmeister, who has been in office for nearly a month, released her proposed budget for fiscal 2016, seeking a $205 million increase, three fourths of which would go toward teacher pay hikes. She also proposed adding five days to the school calendar during the next five years. The total budget would be $2.1 billion.

The pay raise would be spread out over several years, and would bring the state’s average teacher salary to $49,677, according to a statement released by Hofmeister. That would be a $5,300 increase compared with 2012-2013 salary levels.

Oklahoma has the third-lowest average pay in the nation.

“Oklahoma teachers do an incredible job on behalf of our schoolchildren, and they need and deserve competitive compensation,” Hofmeister said.

Phil Bacharach, a spokesman for Hofmeister, said she did not make any recommendations on how to pay for the raise because it’s up to the Legislature to figure out how to fund the budget.

Following a series of tax cuts and loss of oil and gas revenue, Oklahoma is experiencing a budget shortfall.

Hofmeister has already received support for her proposal, Bacharach said.

“We need to find a way to fund our public education and our state government,” Bacharach said.

Hofmeister is not alone in her request. At least 10 bills have been filed with the Legislature looking to increase teacher pay. A similar push fizzled out last year as the state grappled with a budget shortfall.

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  • Impoverished teacher

    I don’t believe those figures are accurate. A $5300 pay raise is not sufficient to bring the AVERAGE teacher’s pay to $49,677. For that to be true, the average teacher would currently be making $44,377. Under the current teacher minimum salary schedule–to which most districts adhere–to make that much, a teacher has to have a master’s degree, national certification, AND at least 24 years of experience OR a Ph.D. and at least 22 years of experience. To make $44,000 with less than a master’s AND national board certification, the teacher would have to have been teaching for more than 25 years. Does that sound like the average teacher to you?