State-Wide Work Stoppage
The most frequently asked question regarding the “Teacher Walkout” or Work Stoppage has been why a walkout? Historic legislation was passed and signed by the governor late on Thursday, March 29. Both chambers passed the teacher pay raise, education support employee raise, education appropriations and a revenue bill. This legislation adds money to the funding formula for teacher pay raises ($1,850,000 for Tahlequah), and money for textbooks or instructional supplies ($250,000 for Tahlequah).
But even though a teacher pay raise was passed, there is still concern among educators that education and core state service funding cuts were not adequately restored, and the support pay raise was not sufficient. Also, as soon as the revenue measures were passed on Thursday, cuts to the revenue bill occurred immediately by the removal of the hotel/motel tax. Additional measures were passed through the Senate on Friday some of which filled the hole left by the removal of the hotel/motel tax.
The shortage of qualified teachers in Oklahoma is beyond a crisis. Tahlequah Public Schools could not find a quality substitute for a kindergarten classroom or qualified special education teachers. These are only a couple of examples of the teacher shortage crisis in a district located in the same community as Northeastern State University known for producing quality teacher candidates.
Current 9th grade students that entered PK in 2008 have experienced nothing but cuts to education funding. Oklahoma ranks at the top in the nation in cuts to state formula funding per student.
Consequently, Tahlequah teachers voted to walk out on April 2. The TPS Board of Education had already adopted a resolution on Thursday, March 8 pledging their full support of our teachers. Our school district stands ready to take the steps necessary to improve conditions for our students, faculty and staff—including a districtwide suspension of classes.
At this writing, school was suspended on April 3rd through 6th, and on Monday, April 9 with daily discussions on the continued suspension of school with teachers in the district. We are all monitoring activity at the State Capitol to replace the revenue pulled out last week and to restore money to the funding formula.
THANK YOU to the Tahlequah community for supporting our students and staff during this time of uncertainty! Tahlequah is a beautiful community, and an incredible place to call home that has always promoted education.
The district has published a Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) document for patrons to our website at www.tahlequahschools.org. Some of the most asked questions are included here for the Daily Press audience, however the full document can be accessed on our website.
Will student meals be offered during the Work Stoppage?
Yes. Breakfast and lunch will be offered to students under the age of 18. The Seamless Summer Option will be offered at Sequoyah Elementary School located at 425 S. College for any student under the age of 18 regardless of the school district that they attend.
Will students continue to compete in athletics during the Work Stoppage?
TPS does not intend the Work Stoppage to affect once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that students may have this spring. Varsity sports will continue to practice and to play during the Work Stoppage. These sports include baseball, golf, slow-pitch softball, soccer, tennis and track. Varsity practice will continue at the regular time each day. Middle school sports will not play or practice during the Work Stoppage.
Will other student competitions and activities continue as scheduled?
TPS will work with activity sponsors to allow competitions and activities that have been scheduled and paid for to continue.
Will Graduation continue as scheduled for May 18 at 7 PM?