Community rallies as teacher raise bill is signed

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LONE GROVE, Okla. (KXII0-- The governor signed a teacher pay raise Thursday evening, but many schools plan to walk out next week anyway, with some teachers say it's not enough.

As Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law the largest teacher pay raise in the state's history, teachers, parents and students alike were rallying in Lone Grove.

"We need to show them that we support them," Grandparent Sarah Northrup said. "We need to show them that we care about them, that they are important."

The bill gives teachers an average raise of $6,100 per year, raising taxes on cigarettes, fuel, lodging, and oil and gas production. In all it's expected to raise $450 million.

But Lone Grove math teacher Michael Cathey says its only a step in the right direction. He says it doesn't address the teacher shortage, or teachers having to use money out of their own pocket for the classroom.

"We've got to have more resources to provide those students with a better education, a more competitive education, than what they're receiving now." Cathey said.

Northrup's daughter is a teacher in Lone Grove, where her four grandchildren are students. She agrees.

"I want my grandchildren to have a great education, so they grow up and can support me when I'm older," Northrup said. "And if you have a second rate education, then you get second rate jobs. And if you get second rate jobs, you stay in poverty."

And many schools will still have teacher walkouts across the state. In Southern Oklahoma, only eight schools will remain open all of next week. The rest, including Lone Grove, will remain closed Monday for the walkout- though some already had that day scheduled off.

The Oklahoma Education Association says the bill doesn't address the budget shortfall, overcrowded classrooms and argues that legislators are already working to repeal the lodging tax; which generates nearly $50 million.

"We do not want to come across as greedy," Cathey said. "But again, that package again lacks in overall school funding, funding that's going to get into the classroom."

Our reporters have been reaching out to all our local schools all day asking about their plans for next week. We've posted what they've told us below:

Ardmore- Walking out Monday.
Lone Grove - Walking out Monday and Tuesday.
Healdton - Walking out Monday, but there will be a school board meeting Friday.
Wilson- Walking out Monday.
Dickson- No longer planning to walk out. School will be in session.

Marietta - Walking out Monday,
Thackerville- No longer walking out. School will be in session.

Madill- No longer walking out. School will be in session.
Kingston- No longer walking out. School will be in session.

Sulphur- No longer walking out. School will be in session.

Atoka- No longer walking out. School will be in session.

Ada- The Teacher Personal Advocacy Day scheduled for Monday will go on as planned.

Pauls Valley- Walking out Monday.

Tishomingo - No longer walking out. School will be in session.

Durant- Walking out Monday. Sending teachers to Capitol.

Hugo- Walking out Monday. But no longer sending teachers.

Coalgate- Walking out Monday.

Idabel- No longer walking out. School will be in session.

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