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Teachers And Supporters Continue To Lobby For More Funding

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Even though the teacher walkout officially ended last Thursday, hundreds of teachers and their supporters returned to the capitol Monday to lobby for more money. This time they came prepared with exact numbers.

Over the weekend teachers organized themselves and came up with specific demands. 

97% of them decided to send delegates to the capitol to lobby for an additional $50.8 Million dollars for fiscal year 2019, even though the $2.9 Billion dollar education budget already passed with enough money to fund an average $6,100 raise for teachers and a 19% increase in funding. Lawmakers say they’ve met 95% of teachers' demands. 

Still teachers say that’s not enough. “I think that our legislators could do better and I think that a lot of the measures that they’ve thrown our way are a cop out.” Said Crystal Glass, a teacher at Del City High School.

Mid-Del teacher Jamie Fugate said, “They thought that was a negotiation? I’ve got news for them. Teachers don’t negotiate. They don’t negotiate with children, they don’t negotiate with parents and we are not about to negotiate with legislators.”

But lawmakers say they’ve done all they can for the education budget for fiscal year 2019 and as far as they’re concerned, the books are closed. “To tell you that this caucus in the House or the Senate is going to raise additional taxes, I just, I’m just confident that won’t happen," said Representative Earl Sears (R) Finance Chair.

Senator Greg Treat Majority (R) Floor Leader added, “FY 19 as I’ve said probably 80 times is done. FY 2019 budget is set.”

But teachers say that’s not good enough. “Kids are reading out of novels as old as I am, and our textbooks haven’t been updated since I was in high school.  I’m teaching out of the same book that I learned from when I was in high school.” Glass said.  Tessie Curran, a Del City High School Teacher, added “I’m going to keep fighting and they’re going to be probably really mad at me for being up here but that’s okay because I believe in this.”

The legislature is scheduled to wrap up May 25th. News 9 spoke with teachers and supporters who say they’ll continue coming to the capitol every day until the session wraps up or until the legislature comes up with another $50 Million dollars. 

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