Tulsa Public Schools teachers will be receiving raises of $2,084 on average in the next school year.
The Board of Education approved the raises at Monday night’s meeting.
The district had been negotiating with the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association since July to reach an agreement on salaries for the 2019-20 school year.
Chief Talent and Learning Officer Devin Fletcher said that with pay-scale steps included, the average teacher will see a $2,084 raise. Every teacher will receive at least the $1,220 raise included in this year’s state budget, Fletcher said.
“Ninety-six percent of our teachers overwhelmingly voted to approve the ratification and it guarantees a starting salary of $40,000 for our teachers,” Fletcher said at the meeting. “It’s exciting and it helps us to maintain a competitive advantage with our surrounding districts.
“One of the things that the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association and the Tulsa Public Schools group wanted to ensure is that we’re honoring and valuing our educators. ... We tried to do everything we could to ensure we are creating an opportunity for our teachers to make more over the lifetime of their career.”
Area and suburban districts, including Broken Arrow, Jenks and Union, previously approved raises of at least $1,200 for their teachers. Negotiations between the district and TCTA had been ongoing and delayed in part with school coming back in session in the fall, but 2018’s $5,000 raise was not approved until October, either.
Fletcher said the raises have shifted the district’s pay scale considerably. Previously, the $45,000 mark sat just below step 15 on the pay scale, and Fletcher said it’s moved up to step 10 after the increase.
The agreement passed unanimously, and the board also approved salary adjustments for teachers hired before July 1 who are not covered by TCTA’s collective bargaining agreement.
Superintendent Deborah Gist said the district is pleased with the new contract and happy an agreement could be worked out. She said she hopes teachers and the community see that the district invested more into its teachers than expected by the state.
“It’s an important step,” Gist said. “We’re going to continue to advocate tirelessly at the state level to do more and more to make sure our salaries for our teachers and our support employees are more professionally competitive. We’re pleased we can take this step in the right direction.”
Gist said she hopes parents and the city at large see the raises as evidence of the district’s interest in its talent. But the district’s raises aren’t in a vacuum, and Gist said she wants to see the trend continue through backing for education at the Capitol.
“We heard from our community when we had the community meetings that this was a priority for them,” Gist said. “They want to be sure that teachers and others in our school system who are working with kids are appropriately compensated.
“We agree with that feedback and we’ve made these steps in the right direction. I would also say all of us need to continue the advocacy at the state level to make sure our state leaders know that our work is not finished.”