OK Senate approves education bills

Teacher pay, teacher recruitment, reducing administrative costs are among education measures the Oklahoma Senate approved on Wednesday and part of the education issues included in the Senate Republicans’ 2017 legislative agenda.

“Investing in education now will pay dividends for Oklahoma for decades to come …

“Education is a key part of our legislative agenda this year. It all starts in the classroom. We want to make sure our students leave high school prepared for success in college and the workforce, and we want to reward and adequately compensate the talented, creative, and dedicated teachers who help our students succeed,” said President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus. “These investments in education will pay off by giving Oklahoma a more skilled and talented workforce and an even better place to invest and do business.”

Sen. Gary Stanislawski

Sen.  Gary Stanislawski, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, authored Senate Bill 618, which modifies the minimum salary schedule and increases pay for classroom teachers.

“Our teachers are so important to us in this state and to the families throughout Oklahoma.  We need to continue to push forward to let our message be heard that we support our teachers and we would like to give them a pay raise.  Does that mean that we’re going to get everything we want this year?  Maybe not, but it’s so important. We have to keep pushing,” said Stanislawski, R-Tulsa.

Measures approved by the Senate include:
• SB 514 (Stanislawski) requires the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to study shared administrative services of school districts in the state in the hopes of reducing administrative costs.
• SB 15 (Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Piedmont) directs the OSDE and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to implement a targeted recruiting program for teachers.
• SB 70 (Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville) directs the State Auditor and Inspector to conduct a performance audit on the OSDE.
• SB 72 (Daniels) directs the State Auditor and Inspector to conduct a performance audit of the Department of Career and Technology.
• SB 84 (Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair) extends the probationary promotion program for students under the Reading Sufficiency Act.
• SB 243 (Stanislawski) requires a monthly financial report to be prepared by the local school’s treasurer and sent to the local school board.
• SB 244 (Stanislawski) requires virtual charter schools to track attendance.
• SB 389 (Stanislawski) requires the State Board of Education to review and send a report to legislative leadership on pupil grade level weights every five years.
• SB 515 (Stanislawski) modifies the point system in determining a school’s grade on the state A-F report card system.
• SB 261 (Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona) creates a task force to study and make recommendations on reforms to the State Aid formula, including but not be limited to the grade level weights, the student category weights and the transportation factor of the State Aid formula.
• SB 393 (Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate) allows teachers to objectively review the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.
• SB 428 (Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud) allows retired teachers to be re-employed by schools.
• SB 529 (Smalley) increases accountability to combat fraud in the Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) to ensure funds are available for students in the program.
• SB 445 (Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow) increases flexibility within existing tax credits related to the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act to better serve low-income and high-needs students.
• SB 450 (Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro) instructs schools to treat religious viewpoints expressed by a student with the same respect it would treat a secular viewpoint.
• SB 632 (Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee) creates the Education Compact for Students in State Care Act, which established a board to facilitate the transfer of children in state care to a school.
• Senate Joint Resolution 9 (Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow) increases civics education by requiring OSDE to incorporate a citizenship test into the standards for grades 9-12.

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