Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

SQ 779 Analysis: Teacher Raises, but Not Much Else

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

SQ 779 Analysis: Teacher Raises, but Not Much Else

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - The 1-percent sales tax in State Question 779 would generate more than $400 million each year for teacher raises, retention and academics, according to an analysis by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

The state's two biggest public school districts would get about $26 million each. The figure is based on student attendance measured throughout the year, meaning the smallest districts would get only a few thousand dollars, according to the OSSBA. At the bottom of the list: Straight Public School in Guymon, numbering just a few dozen students, which could get a mere $24,000.

Because some costs such as baseline teacher salaries are common throughout the state, those smaller districts might not have a chance to spend big.

OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime said schools would be able to use the money on a mandatory $5,000 teacher pay raise, plus incentives to recruit and retain educators. Other revenue earmarked for public schools would go toward academic programs meant to improve graduation rates and college readiness.

"You could hire additional teachers to reduce class size, which would be a research-based approach to improving academic achievement," Hime said.

But some districts might not even have that option.

"For the most part, small schools would have to spend (revenue) on the $5,000 raise and other small initiatives," Hime said. "They would not have enough money for additional teachers."

The OSSBA's analysis shows Washington Public Schools in McClain County would get an extra $560,395 from the proposed 1-percent sales tax. Superintendent A.J. Brewer said that after raises, he's not yet sure how the money might be spent. …

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