The Sand Springs Board of Education meeting July 1 focused on the upcoming teacher pay raise and other district finance issues.
Sand Springs Public Schools Superintendent Sherry Durkee said the minimum amount of the teacher pay raise will be $1,220 per year and a new pay scale will be on the Board of Education’s August agenda.
“It’s likely we’ll spend the entire allocation of new money—fiscal year ’20—on teacher pay raises, which is a good thing,” Durkee said.
She said district administration is almost finished interviewing for staff for the upcoming school year.
“I’m proud to say we are almost at full capacity,” Durkee said of staffing.
She said the district is at about 11 emergency-certified teachers.
“We have an extraordinary amount of emergency-certified teachers, but at the same time, we need to remember to thank those folks who are willing to come in and work because it is not an easy job,” Durkee said.
Former Sand Springs Public Schools Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel Gary Watts gave an update on a lawsuit he filed in 2016 with eight other districts that argued the Oklahoma Tax Commission failed to interpret a new law, House Bill 2244, correctly since July 2015, which resulted in more than $14 million of statewide motor vehicle tax collections being improperly distributed.
House Bill 2244 capped the amount of motor vehicle tax revenue allocated to school districts at 36.2 percent and eliminated a clause that had allowed the Tax Commission to use some of the state’s portion of the revenue if there wasn’t enough to give the school districts the same amount they’d received the previous year.
Since then, the district has been receiving $35,833 each month since around February to make up approximately $465,832 and resolve the issue.
“The whole issue is getting the chargeable amount to be based on what we actually have the prospect of collecting under current law and in my opinion, that should not include the judge-ordered corrections for two years now because that’s not current money coming in, that’s making up previously,” Watts said. “And what the State Department (of Education) is doing is they’re adding that and saying that was part of your collections. Well, it was and it wasn’t. That’s what the dispute is.”
Watts said he wants to go to the Board of Education and ask that the correction amount not be included in the district’s chargeables, thereby increasing the state aid the district receives by that $35,833.
State Rep. Jadine Nollan said she requested an interim study on the issue.
In other news:
• The Board approved raising the price of meals for the 2019-2020 school year by about 10 cents for students, meaning breakfast prices would increase for an elementary school student to $1.40 in 2019-2020 from $1.30 in 2018-2019 and to $1.60 from $1.50 for middle and high school students. Lunch prices would increase to $2.35 in 2019-2020 from $2.25 for elementary students, $2.65 from $2.55 for middle school students and $2.70 from $2.60 for high school students.
• The Board approved renewing of the sublease agreements with the Tulsa County Industrial Authority for the Northwoods Fine Arts Academy building and the Central Ninth Grade Center building.
• The Board of Education approved hiring a social studies teacher at Clyde Boyd Middle School, a Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach at Charles Page High School, a Pre-K teacher at the Early Childhood Education Center, a social studies teacher at the Tulsa Boys Home, a third grade teacher at Limestone Technology Academy, a social studies teacher at Clyde Boyd Middle School, a literature teacher at Clyde Boyd Middle School, a special education teacher at the Central Ninth Grade Center, a Title I reading teacher at Clyde Boyd Middle School, a first grade teacher at Garfield STEAM Academy, a Pre-K teacher at the Early Childhood Education Center, an intermediate math teacher at Clyde Boyd Middle School, a first grade teacher at Limestone Technology Academy, a U.S. History teacher and Assistant Varsity Football Coach at Charles Page High School, a family/consumer science teacher at the Central Ninth Grade Center/Charles Page High School and a special education paraprofessional at Limestone Technology Academy.
• The Board presented Sandite Pacesetter Awards to State Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, and Nollan, R-Sand Springs, for their work during the legislative session.