The Claremore Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the release of teachers, students and staff for participation in the Oklahoma Education Coalition (OEC) funding rally, scheduled for March 31 at the state capitol in Oklahoma City.
At the education rally, hundreds of teachers from across the state will call on the Oklahoma Legislature to prioritize education funding in order to restore per pupil funding to prerecession (FY08) levels.
Oklahoma school districts have experienced the most severe state funding cuts in the nation, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Per student funding of Oklahoma’s K-12 education formula has decreased by 22.8 percent since 2008, and teachers have not had a state funded salary increase in seven years.
According to the National Education Association, Oklahoma is ranked 49th in the nation when it comes to teacher pay, and state appropriations to public education are $230 million below prerecession levels.
Members of the Claremore Classroom Teacher’s Association helped prepare and distribute a survey to nearly 300 certified teachers across the district for the purpose of determining how many plan to endorse the resolution to participate in the education rally.
Superintendent Michael McClaren said out of the 300 teachers, 80 percent supported the resolution, while 20 percent were against the idea.
Claremore schools have missed a total of seven days due to winter weather, and have already had to implement Good Friday (April 18) as a make-up day. In addition to approving the March 31 release for teachers, the board approved to implement extended hours at the high school to make up for the scheduled rally day.
McClaren said instead of having encore (a planning and tutoring period from 8:25-8:50 a.m.) before school, students will go directly to their first period class.
The change will extend each class period by five minutes and school will continue to let out at the same time.
The added hours at the high school allow Claremore to meet the state statute amount of instructional hours, McClaren said. Oklahoma Statutes provide that a school year should not consist of less than 1,080 hours of classroom instruction.