Although it did not appear to be a unanimous decision among teachers, students and teachers with Guthrie Public Schools will return back to the classroom next week.
In a press conference held Thursday morning inside the Guthrie High School cafeteria, the Guthrie Association of Classroom Teachers (GACT) announced they will be back in school on Monday.
“We choose at this time to end the part of the walkout that involves closing our schools,” Michelle Redus read from a prepared statement.
GPS officially announced the school district will be closed on Friday, April 13, but plans to reopen on Monday, April 16.
The walkout for Guthrie appears will end at 10 school days, which started on April 2.
“It’s been two weeks of a lot of emotion with our staff, parents and with our community, but I want to thank the teachers for the work they have put in,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said in a phone interview with Guthrie News Page.
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“Their (teachers) work has made a difference and will continue to make a difference in the education that we can provide in Guthrie.”
In the prepared statement, Redus said some of the gains of the walkout, included a pay raise for teachers and support staff, although not enough for support, a line item budget for text books and return of funding for each school.
However, Redus said teachers will continue to fight for continued funding, decent wage for support personnel and money for schools to start recovery from draconian cuts.
“Not every ask was granted – many were. One of the greatest challenges we face is replacing quality teachers. The salaries that we are now going to be able to pay will go a long ways of providing a talent pool that is deep and very gifted.”
The Guthrie Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Friday afternoon (4:30 p.m.). The agenda of that meeting is expected to be released on Thursday afternoon.
GACT reminded parents students will not have any days to make up due to the walkout.
Teachers, however, are expected to make up the 10 days after school is out in May or receive a cut in pay, according to the GACT.
“We are going to do what we do best and teach our students first then continue to teach the community about the senators and representatives we need to continue this fight for education,” Redus said from the release.
Redus added Guthrie has lost 25 teaching positions in the past four years.
“This led us to walk out on the thing we care about the most – our kids.”
In March, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it was seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.
The Oklahoma Senate, Oklahoma House of Representatives and Governor Mary Fallin approved House Bill 1010, which calls for a $447 million tax increase to fund teacher pay raises. The plan gives an average $6,100 pay increase for all teachers. However, teachers say lawmakers didn’t restore education funding – particularly for the classroom.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced the extension of the Oklahoma School Testing Program schedule, which began April 2. Related article: OSDE extends testing window to give students opportunity for best performance