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State Leaders Explore New Ways To Increase Teacher Pay

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Backers of a plan to give teachers a raise will have to go back to the drawing board. 

State Question 779 would have increased the state sales tax by one percent to, in part, fund $5,000 raises for teachers, but it failed with almost 60 percent of voters saying they don’t want it.

"What I see is Oklahoma voters have an expectation that we'll find a solution,” said Shawn Hime with the Oklahoma School Boards Association. “That education leaders, legislators and Oklahoma leaders all together will come together and find a solution."

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, offered a plan last year to give teachers a $10,000 raise. 

He plans to rework it and pitch it again next year. It could include looking at tax credits and incentives. It could also include a sales tax on items not currently taxed, and reducing the number of school superintendents in the state. 

"You don't have to close a single school building in this state to save tens of millions of dollars by having fewer superintendents,” Holt said. “We have 520 superintendents in this state. We have 24 in the city limits of Oklahoma city alone.  And that is an unnecessary inefficiency."

Holt said we’re just wasting money. 

"I have never understood the common sense in just flushing money down the toilet. I feel that that's what you're doing with the administrative bloat that we have," he said.

Education leaders say they’re willing to work with lawmakers. Right now, it’s their only option. 

"This didn't happen overnight.  I don't expect it to be solved overnight,” Hime said, “But we need a plan in place to continue to give hope to our teachers."

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