EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
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.