Though a historic deal has just been passed by the House and Senate, and signed Thursday evening by Gov. Mary Fallin, many educators in the state believe its too little, too late. A Monday walkout is still on the agenda for many districts.

Though a historic deal has just been passed by the House and Senate, and signed Thursday evening by Gov. Mary Fallin, many educators in the state believe its too little, too late. A Monday walkout is still on the agenda for many districts.

A statewide teacher walkout has been threatened if an agreeable deal could not be established this week.

Oklahoma teachers have not had a raise since 2007.

Needing a three-fourths majority to pass, on Monday state representatives voted 79-21 in favor of the revenue package — the first to pass the House in 28 years.

The measure was heard in the Senate Wednesday night where they passed the package of tax hikes to generate hundreds of millions of new dollars for teacher pay — and to avert statewide school closures.

The bill was to increase taxes on cigarettes, fuel, lodging and oil and gas production. It needed a three-fourth's majority to pass the Republican-controlled body — which it got, 36-10.

HB 1010xx provides $447 million in revenue by increasing the gross production to 5 percent on all wells, increasing the cigarette tax $1 per pack, and increasing the gas tax 3 cents and the diesel tax 6 cents.

The Senate also advanced HB 1011xx, which provides an additional $84.3 million for teacher pay by making changes to the state income tax code — with a revenue-raising measure to put a $17,000 cap on deductions on adjusted gross income. Charitable contributions and medical expenses are not capped.

HB 1023XX, which establishes a new teacher salary schedule, is the largest teacher pay increase in state history. Teachers will receive a $6,100 pay raise on average in the upcoming school year.

After a furious, last-minute lobbying effort by the hospitality industry, House and Senate leaders agreed to pass a separate measure to remove the proposed $5-per-night lodging fee ($50,000,000 that will now have to be found elsewhere).

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the bill represents a tremendous step forward for public education in Oklahoma, but more is left to be done.

“This advocacy can and must continue, but it is not all that is needed to reverse a decade of student growth that has outpaced funding for public education. This bill allows us to begin to reverse Oklahoma’s severe teacher shortage and begin attracting new talent to the profession while also rewarding career educators,” she said. “Building a competitive public education to lift student outcomes will require continued engagement and sustained investment.”

With a promise of teacher pay raise passed, the issue still remains what will happen regarding general education funding.

School districts are now in the difficult position of trying to decide whether to be satisfied for now with efforts made this week by lawmakers, or if it's time to don their walking shoes and protest signs.

After Fallin's signature was secured, Pottawatomie County school districts Thursday were neck deep in meeting planning their next move — some have yet to determine what that will be.

Some school districts have determined to look at this week's efforts as a positive step forward.

North Rock Creek Superintendent Blake Moody said although this is not the end game, he is very thankful for our legislators and proud of the professionalism of North Rock Creek staff during trying times.

“Teachers and school support staff deserve a better living wage and more importantly deserve respect and applause for taking care of our kids,” he said. “This bipartisan legislative action makes that statement loud and clear.”

Maud Superintendent Jerry McCormick confirmed Maud students will be in class, as school will be open come Monday.

Dale also is headed back to class.

“Dale will be in school on Monday,” Dale Superintendent Charlie Dickinson said. “We are very thankful to the Oklahoma Legislature for passing an historic pay raise for our teachers.”

Other schools are cautiously waiting to see how things go from here.

Shawnee Superintendent Dr. April Grace confirmed school will be closed Monday in support of a teacher walkout to allow teachers an opportunity to provide advocacy at the Capitol.

“We believe it is important to thank legislators for taking positive steps forward in the right direction for Oklahoma education, as well as continue to encourage them to increase education funding and fill the hole for the hotel/motel tax repeal,” she said. “It is imperative that we continue to have increases in funding for operational costs in order to reduce class sizes and provide the necessary resources for our teachers.”

With that said, Grace offered her thanks to all the work that has been done so far to navigate through the situation.

“We recognize the incredible and historic efforts that have been made and do not take those lightly,” she said. “We appreciate the ongoing support of local legislators and the community.”

Grace said Shawnee schools will run the routes for feeding students as previously announced. The goal is to resume school and instructional services as quickly as possible, she said.

South Rock Creek Superintendent Mike Crawford said his district will be out for sure on Monday (it is ORES dependent school) day at the Capitol, and that will give his team a chance to talk with legislatures.

“We are polling the faculty to help decide what to do beyond Monday,” he said.  “It may be a day-by-day situation based on what happens at the Capitol.”

As a result of the situation, he said his school will compress four weeks of testing into three.

Tecumseh Superintendent Tom Wilsie said he would be meeting with his teachers and staff to discuss the details of the new legislation. He said the district would keep parents alerted to any changes.

Bethel took the same stance; Bethel Superintendent Tod Harrison said his district would be finalizing decisions.

As of press time, several school districts had not offered any changes to their previous decisions since news of the congressional vote: Macomb, Asher and Earlsboro had previously opted to stay open and send delegates to the Capitol.

Earlier in the week, Grove, Pleasant Grove and McLoud have said their districts would not have classes if teachers decide to follow through with the strike.

Wanette has not responded to inquiries.

Responses from districts across the state appear to be just as mixed a bag.

In a statement by Ed Allen, president of the 2,600-member Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, an announcement was made accepting the legislation.

“Teachers’ voices were heard and reflected in this bill, which acknowledges that educators have been woefully underpaid and undervalued and that schools have been grossly underfunded,” he said. “While the Oklahoma City AFT accepts this package of pay raises, tax increases and education investment, we consider it a down payment.”

Families need much more to feel assured that schools can recruit and keep quality educators and that kids get the resources they need to succeed, he said.

“The fight goes on, especially to pass the November referendum to raise the gross production tax on oil and gas to 7 percent,” Allen said.

OEA President Alicia Priest said the historic investment of half a billion dollars will benefit a generation of Oklahoma students and will be felt in every community across this state.

“While this is major progress, this investment alone will not undo a decade of neglect,” she said. “Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students.”

She added there is still work to do to get the legislature to invest more in the classrooms.

“That work will continue Monday when educators descend on the Capitol,” she said.

Watch for updates.