Legislature Passes Historic Education Package

by Rep. Brad Boles
Oklahoma Rep. Brad Boles Oklahoma Rep. Brad Boles

After months of negotiations, the House, Senate and Governor developed an education plan we can all get behind. To help put into perspective how significant this year's education investment is, once the education bills are signed into law, we will have invested $1.45 billion in new funding to common education since 2019, which is approximately a 59% increase. In comparison, common education received an increase of $1.37 billion from 1992-2018. When this education package is signed into law, the Republican-controlled Legislature and Governor Stitt will have poured more new money into education in the last 5 years than during the previous 27 years combined. Additionally, Oklahoma teachers will have received on average a raise of $11,000 in the past five years, which is a significantly higher increase than any other time in state history over the same five-year period.

While we all had different ideas in the beginning, we collaborated to craft a proposal that ensures all of Oklahoma's children are served at the highest level possible. I truly believe this plan works best for every student, every parent, every teacher and every school district in our state.

First, we dedicated $625 million in new money to education.

The school funding formula will receive $500 million, which will be used to cover salary increases for teachers, as well as paid maternity leave. The remaining money can be used for support staff, operational expenses and discretionary funds.

The teacher pay raises are longevity-based. Teachers with 0-4 years of experience will see an additional $3,000. Teachers will 5-9 years of experience will see an additional $4,000. Teachers will 10-14 years will receive $5,000, and teachers with over 15 years of experience will see a $6,000 increase.

Six weeks' paid maternity leave will also soon be available to teachers who have taught at least one year. This is a major bargaining chip in Oklahoma's favor as we recruit and retain the best and brightest educators to our state.

We also added $125 million to the Redbud Fund, which provides additional funding to school districts with a lower ad valorem tax than the state average.

Each district will also receive an additional $96,000 annually over the next three years for the new school safety pilot program, which will fund school security officers and security upgrades to protect our students, teachers and administrators, which equals $150 million over the next three years in one-time funding.

Other one-time funding approved by the Legislature was $10 million toward a literacy program established by the State Dept. of Education to create a literacy instructional team to assist school districts. The team will have five regional locations across the state and will help teachers recognize educational needs of students, with an additional emphasis on students who have dyslexia.

All of these bills have passed at least one of the legislative chambers, and we plan to take up the opposite chambers' bills on Friday, May 19, so they'll all be sent to the Governor shortly.

These are the children who make up the next generation of Oklahoma's workforce, and students in each corner of the state deserve an education that sets them up for future success. I'm so proud that we were able to accomplish this for Oklahoma!

As always, I hope you reach out with any questions or concerns. You can contact me at (405) 557-7405 or at brad.boles@okhouse.gov. Thank you for the honor of representing you at the State Capitol—God bless!

Rep. Brad Boles represents District 51 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Grady and Stephens counties.

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