FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Dan Sullivan
Capitol: (405) 557-7361
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers voted today to prevent teachers from being told their contracts will not be renewed until the state budget picture becomes clearer.
Senate Bill 394, by state Sen. Gary Stanislawski and state Rep. Dan Sullivan, changes state law on teacher contract renewal. Current law requires that contract notices be provided no later than April 10. The bill would move that date to the first Monday of June.
“Due to the recession and the uncertainty surrounding the use of federal stimulus money, it is very unlikely schools will know exactly how much money they have before April 10,” said Sullivan, R-Tulsa. “We do not want schools to be forced to lay off teachers and then try to reverse course in May when the budget picture becomes clear. This legislation would simply give schools and teachers a little more flexibility.”
The state faces a $900 million shortfall this year. Some of that gap may be filled by federal stimulus money, but the federal government has not made clear what restrictions will be placed on the use of that money.
As a result, a state budget written without the inclusion of the stimulus money will indicate greater cuts than what will likely occur and could prompt layoff notices to be sent to teachers who may actually be retained, Sullivan noted.
“Once fired, it can be difficult to rehire a teacher who has already applied for and possibly been hired by another employer. Basically, you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube,” Sullivan said. “We want to avoid unnecessary headaches for our schools and teachers as much as possible.”
Senate Bill 394 was approved today by the House Common Education Committee. It now proceeds to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.