In the first public press conference since talk of a statewide teacher walkout began, the largest Oklahoma teachers union laid out their demands for the state legislature.
The demands include:
- $10,000 pay raise for teachers over the next three years.
- $5,000 raise for school support professionals, like secretaries, custodians, and bus drivers.
- $200 million in increased school funding over three years.
- $213 million for state employees raises.
- $256 million in health care funding over the next two years.
Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest says the goal is not to close schools, it’s to fund education. But, if the legislature doesn’t come up with the revenue by April 1st, schools will shut down.
“Schools will stay closed until we get what we are asking for,” she said.
The first year of OEA’s plan will cost lawmakers $812 million. Priest says the union did not identify specific revenue-raising methods because the legislature has developed several proposals of their own over the past few years that could be used to raise the funds.
Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz says a $10,000 raise over time raise is possible, but it’s going to be tough.
“That would [require] about $600 million in additional revenue. We’ve seen a struggle in the House to pass anything that would raise $300 – $400 million. So I think if you’re asking that chamber to raise $600 milllion… that would be very difficult.”
He said he thinks a $5,000 raise is more obtainable.