Mike Brake | August 8, 2018
As teacher pay raises kick in, OKCPS teachers must wait
Unlike teachers in other school districts throughout Oklahoma, teachers in the Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) will see delays in their pay raises. OKCPS announced that the raises due to all certified and support personnel would be delayed until September because “we felt it was important to work closely with our union partners in the interpretation and implementation of the statutes.”
Ed Allen, leader of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the district’s bargaining agent, told KOCO that Oklahoma City’s situation in dispensing the raises was not as cut and dried as other districts.
District officials said once raises are implemented they will be made retroactive. However, because Oklahoma City operates on a year-round academic calendar—with fall, winter, spring, and summer breaks—their teachers were back in the classroom earlier that most state educators, with classes beginning on August 1.
Asked for details about the delay, OCKPS spokeswoman Beth Harrison said, “We don’t comment on details related to confidential negotiations with our union partners.” She provided a statement from new district Superintendent Sean McDaniel which was distributed to district employees and promised that “we anticipate that all issues will be resolved in the next month. I understand the frustration and I am not going to make excuses.”
McDaniel also said he would “take measures to create a smoother process for raises going forward.”
A sampling of other districts showed that all of those contacted planned to implement the raises on time, with no delays comparable to those in Oklahoma City.
Steve Lindley, spokesman for Putnam City Schools, said his district is “implementing the raises at the start of the contract year for certified and support personnel.”
Susan Parks-Schlepp of Edmond Public Schools said raises in her district would also kick in at the start of the contract year. In most districts the contract year begins when school staff first reports a few days prior to the first class day.
Sarah Agee of Tulsa Public Schools noted that “we have implemented the raises in full” and added that district officials have also engaged in negotiations with the local Oklahoma Education Association chapter, which is the bargaining agent for Tulsa teachers. Those discussions, however, did not delay the raises.
Eric Wells at Muskogee Public Schools cited state law that requires districts to work with bargaining units on pay and benefits issues, but he said those discussions did not delay the raises. “We have finished our (discussions) and it will be on their first paycheck of the year,” he said.
Amber Graham Fitzgerald of Enid Public Schools noted that her district was already paying above the mandated state minimum and that their board of education approved raises of from $5,001 to $8,395 for teachers and about $1,250 for support personnel in late July.
Mike Brake is a journalist and writer who recently authored a centennial history of Putnam City Schools. A former reporter at The Oklahoman (his coverage of the moon landing earned a front-page byline on July 21, 1969), he served as chief writer for Gov. Frank Keating and for Lt. Gov. and Congresswoman Mary Fallin. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at OSU-OKC, and currently serves as public information officer for Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan.