Okla. lawmakers discuss teacher stipends

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma lawmakers are searching for ways to continue funding an annual stipend for nationally certified teachers that's expected to cost the state more than $16 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Members of the House Education Committee met Tuesday to study the National Board Certified Teacher program that became a hot-button issue last year after newly elected state Superintendent Janet Barresi's budget eliminated funding for the $5,000 annual stipend.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved supplemental funding earlier this year to pay the bonuses - but have imposed a moratorium on new teachers becoming eligible for the program.

Committee Chair Rep. Ann Coody says lawmakers want to continue the stipend - but have concerns over the increasing costs now that more than 3,200 educators are expected qualify for the bonus next year.

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