After months of negotiations, lawmakers committed to putting $625 million in additional recurring appropriations into public education. But a bill outlawing corporal punishment of students with disabilities stalled after clearing the House. 

Here’s a look at what the Legislature did and didn’t do for teachers and students during the  2023 session, which ended Friday: 

The Big Impact: Certified school staff, including teachers, counselors, nurses and speech pathologists, will receive a pay raise of at least $3,000 beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. The increase raises Oklahoma’s first-year teacher annual salary for bachelor’s degree holders up to $39,601. 

Capitol Watch 2023

Keaton Ross reviews the Legislature’s action and inaction during the session that concluded Friday and its effects on:

Here’s how the raises are structured based on experience: 

  • $3,000 for less than four years 
  • $4,000 for five to nine years 
  • $5,000 for 10 to 15 years
  • $6,000 for more than 15 years

Up to six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers is also part of a larger education funding deal struck between Gov. Kevin Stitt and GOP lawmakers earlier this month. 

Also Notable: Every public school district in the state will receive nearly $300,000 over three years for security upgrades or hire a school resource officer. 

Lawmakers also approved Senate Bill 100, which requires the Oklahoma School Safety Institute or another risk assessor to audit the security and vulnerability of every public school district in the state by July 2026. The measure stipulates that the report generated may be kept confidential. 

Left Behind: A proposal to prohibit physical punishment of students with disabilities cleared the House but stalled in the Senate. 

House Bill 1028 narrowly failed on an initial vote in the House on March 14, with one opponent, Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, arguing that prohibition of such a punishment is unbiblical. But principal author Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, filed a motion to reconsider and the proposal advanced to the Senate with just three no votes on March 20. 

While the measure advanced without opposition through the Senate Education Committee, it never received a full chamber vote. Oklahoma is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment in schools, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

Keaton Ross covers democracy and criminal justice for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at (405) 831-9753 or Follow him on Twitter at @_KeatonRoss.

Support our publication

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters — stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

This work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it isn’t possible without your support.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.