Plan to raise teacher pay

The full House Appropriations & Budget Committee advanced a plan that would phase in a $6,000 teacher pay raise over three years and boost Oklahoma teachers to some of the highest paid in the region.

House Bill 1114, by state Rep. Michael Rogers, chair of the House Common Education Committee, would include a $1,000 pay raise for teachers during the 2017-18 school year, another $2,000 raise during the 2018-19 school year and a final $3,000 raise during the 2019-20 school year.

Every $1,000 increase in teacher pay would cost approximately $53 million, said Rogers.

“This is a realistic plan that provides an across-the-board raise to teachers and can actually be accomplished this session,” said Rogers, R-Broken Arrow. “Everyone would like to be able to do more now, but we have to deal with the reality of the current fiscal situation. Not only can this plan be achieved, but it would put us on track to being a leader with surrounding states in teacher compensation.”

Except for the minimum teacher salary, local school boards determine teacher pay. Oklahoma already has the third-highest statutory starting minimum teacher pay in the region. Rogers’ plan would raise Oklahoma teacher pay from 48th in the nation to 27th based on recent data from the National Education Association (NEA).

When paired with the state’s low cost of living, the plan would move Oklahoma to 13th in the nation for average annual teacher pay at $56,804 (adjusted for cost of living). Oklahoma’s cost of living ranks behind only Mississippi for the lowest in the nation.