Guthrie students will not be in their classrooms on Monday, April 2 after the school district announced they’re closing due to a teacher walkout.Guthrie joins other districts, including Oklahoma City, Edmond, Yukon, Norman, Bethany, Shawnee and El Reno to name a few.
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On Thursday, Governor Mary Fallin signed HB1010XX, a $447 million tax increase that would fund an average $6,100 pay increase for teachers, money for support staff, state employees and textbooks.
“Your voices have been heard loudly by our legislature and history was made,” Guthrie Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said in a letter to teachers.
The Oklahoma legislature passed the first tax increase in over 28 years. This will add $600 million in new recurring revenue to the state budget.
However, the Oklahoma Education Association says the plan doesn’t include a large enough raise for support staff and not enough funding for operational costs.
“It’s movement and there needs to be more,” said OEA President Alicia Priest.
Priest says April 2nd is still on.
“We’ve asked for what we’ve asked for. I think everybody is clear on that. Right now, that has not gone through all the steps, it hasn’t included everything it needs to include.”
On Thursday, Simpson asked teachers to return to work on Monday while sending a significant number of teachers to represent the district at the Capitol.
“The actions of the legislature allow us to avoid a school closure which would be detrimental to our students and community. Many of the requests have been met. Is this the perfect plan? No. Are these increases where they should be, given a lack of investment and cuts for more than 10 years? No; but this is a great start.”
The superintendent says his first concern will always be for the students and followed by staff.
“Teaching is the noblest of professions and deserves the utmost respect.”
This closure is needed due to the number of teachers indicating they will be absent far exceeding the number of substitute teachers available.
Simpson says the the school district will consider the ability to staff the teacher absences on a day to day basis.
All 12 month employess will report to work as normal or must take the appropriate leave.