State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister yesterday unveiled a proposed five-year plan to elevate teacher pay to the regional average and the number of days of instruction to the national average.
The plan ultimately would provide Oklahoma teachers with a $5,000 pay increase over 2012-13 figures and add five days of instruction to the school year after five years.
Dubbed #OKhigh5, the proposal would cost $150 million its initial year, which represents the bulk of the requested $205 million budget increase to the Oklahoma State Board of Education for Fiscal Year 2016.
Hofmeister said higher teacher pay is a critical part of resolving a significant teacher shortage. According to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, there are close to 1,000 teacher positions needing to be filled statewide.
“It’s no secret that Oklahoma teachers are woefully underpaid and classrooms are overcrowded,” Hofmeister said. “Schools are understaffed. A combination of low teacher pay and declining job satisfaction is driving teachers out of the profession or to other states. If we want higher student outcomes, we need to ensure we attract and retain top talent in Oklahoma classrooms.”
The proposal would provide a $2,000 pay raise and two additional days of instruction for the 2015-16 school year. Pay would increase annually until the 2019-20 school year, when Oklahoma’s average teacher salary would be $49,677 — more than $5,300 over the state’s average teacher pay from 2012-13.
Only two states — Mississippi and South Dakota — have lower average teacher pay than Oklahoma, where the average is $44,128. That is $3,248 less than the average annual teacher pay in surrounding states.
“Oklahoma teachers do an incredible job on behalf of our schoolchildren, and they need and deserve competitive compensation. I look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor in realizing our mutual goal of showing our teachers how much we value them,” said Hofmeister.
For more information on the proposed budget, click here. (#OKhigh5 information on pages 6-8)