The Oklahoma measure, which will raise about $450 million to fund increased pay for teachers, school staff and state workers, had already passed the state House and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said on Wednesday she would sign it into law.
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The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union that represents almost 40,000 members and school personnel, called the passage of the bill "a truly historic moment", but one that remains "incomplete", according to its president, Alicia Priest. "Stunts like these are why Oklahomans lack any trust or confidence in the state legislature".
Tulsa Public Schools and Owasso Public Schools made it official Thursday afternoon that its schools will be shut down Monday because teachers are going to the Capitol.
The state government has cut education spending by 28.2 percent since the financial crash of 2008-the biggest funding cuts in the country.
Instead, the almost nearly half a billion dollar HB1010xx gives teachers an average $6,100 pay raise, $1,250 to support staff, and up to $2,000 for state employees annually for next fiscal year but nothing in place for increased pay raises in future years.
"There is still work to do to get this legislature to invest more in our classrooms", Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), the state's largest teachers union, said in a Facebook post after the Senate vote.
Teachers in the state began discussing a walkout as West Virginia teachers held a days-long strike earlier this month over low wages.
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Priest called the package a good "first step", but wouldn't say if it was enough to avert a prolonged walkout.
"In our own specific district, we've lost our kindergarten assistants in the last several years, we've lost responsible thinking classroom teaching support". She heard from students about how their schools are preparing for the teacher strike.
Educators wore stickers reading: "I don't want to strike, but I will".
Arizona Educators United, a coalition of educators, demands a 20% salary increase for teachers, competitive pay for all education support professionals, as well as education funding restored to 2008 levels.
"I think students play a major part in this because we are affected, too", said Christian Coleman, a senior at Millwood High School. Oklahoma was also ranked 47th in expenditures for public K-12 students per student in 2016, according to the National Education Association.
HFV Wilson Community Center Executive Director Jacob Lohse says they're expecting around 300 hundred kids next week.
State Sen. John Kavanagh, the Appropriations Committee chairman, told KNXV that tax increases to pay for K-12 education are off the table, as voters have opposed the idea in the past.
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The $1.3 trillion omnibus legislation passed both chambers of Congress after lengthy negotiations between leaders of both parties. However, Friday afternoon he agreed to sign the bill, because it would increase military spending, something he has championed.