April 17, 2018
On April 2, 2018, the Oklahoma Education Association called for a statewide walkout of teachers. This type of action had not happened since 1990. The 1990 walkout lasted 4 days and not only provided some of the largest reforms to education in our state’s history, it also gave teachers a pay raise. However, our legislature undid many of those reforms over the last ten years while our state failed to increase education funding as our student population rose steadily. Ignoring our classroom needs has led to a critical teacher shortage, greater class sizes and insufficient funding to provide the basic needs of our students.
Incredibly, the last few weeks saw our legislature work on a bipartisan basis to levy the first tax increase by our legislature in 28 years. In fact, 79 house members and 36 state senators voted to fund the largest teacher pay raise in state history (between $6,000 and $8,000 depending upon years of service). We also appreciate the $1200 raise provided to support personnel. Schools will also receive a minor amount to help pay for a portion of textbooks. Textbook funding has gone unfunded for the past three years.
I greatly appreciate the BF-DC teachers for choosing to remain in school while we sent a group of representatives from each building to advocate at the capitol. Seeing the throngs of teachers and parents encouraging our legislators to action each day warmed my heart. I feel a strong majority of our public clearly sees how much our teachers care about their students. Even though the legislature had already agreed to provide a pay raise, our teachers continued to lobby for nine days for more funds for our students.
I also appreciate the support given by our community for our staff. The few negative comments were overwhelmed by countless positive remarks. The BF-DC School Board should also be commended for taking action to support our teachers and staff.
Regardless of how you might feel about the walkout, please understand that the recent actions of our legislature have been an amazing achievement to begin fixing the inattention from the past ten years. This action is only a start and the continued support for education in Oklahoma is critical. Our students need supplies, textbooks, computers and smaller class sizes just to name a few things. Please join educators as we continue working to provide for the needs of our students.
Larry R. Johnson, Superintendent
Burns Flat-Dill City Public Schools
A LETTER TO BFDC TEACHERS AND STAFF FROM YOUR SCHOOL BOARD:
We, as the School Board for Burns Flat-Dill City Public Schools, want to express our heartfelt appreciation to every teacher and staff member of our schools.
During a series of meetings in late March and early April, your superintendent, Larry Johnson, listened to your concerns and opinions, then gave you the opportunity to vote on the issue of closing our school and participating in the walkout. Your decision to maintain the orderly operation of our classrooms displayed the dedication to your students that we have always admired in you, as professional educators. Above all else, you truly love and serve the children. And for that, you are to be commended.
Each day of the walkout, you sent delegates to represent your very real and valid dissatisfaction with Oklahoma’s less-than-stellar leadership in education. The School Board and your administration supported those worthy goals and your right to make your voices heard. We were 100% behind you. It seemed that the communities of Burns Flat and Dill City also respected your voice and your needs. Their support for you seemed assured. At the same time, we observed and applauded the dignity and dedication with which you continued to do what you do best—set a good example for the students who look up to you.
We are proud of you. We are pleased with the positive outcomes for schools that resulted from your support of the walkout. We thank you for your role in affecting change without negatively impacting your students. We wish you all the best for the rest of this school year, and we will continue to support you as you pursue the best and most important career there is: Education.
Jimmy Piercey, President
Brian Mooney, Vice-President
Jeffrey Headrick, Clerk
Jill Birdwell, Member
Marva Webb, Member
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