Friday, March 24, 2023

More education bills pass through the State House

At least two more education bills of interest passed the House this week, dealing with professional development and increased pay for large class sizes:

Provenzano Bill Streamlines Professional Development for Teachers

(March 23rd) HB1441, authored by Assistant House Democratic Leader Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa will allow teachers to spend more time in the classroom teaching.

Oklahoma will follow Texas in capping the hours of required federal, state and local professional development to a combined total of 150 hours every 5 years.

“Teachers are asking for help with excessive professional development requirements. This bill does that,” Rep. Provenzano said.

The representative said the bill still provides local control for all school districts.

“Districts will have more freedom to provide training in one area or another to meet specific local needs. This bill does not limit that. It just streamlines professional development for certified teachers only,” Rep. Provenzano said.

The bill passed the House floor and is headed to the Senate for consideration.

House Passes Legislation that Would Compensate Teachers for Additional Students

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would grant additional compensation to elementary school teachers whose classrooms exceed size limits.

House Bill 2009 is authored by Rep. Dean Davis, R-Broken Arrow.

"When a teacher is asked to teach additional students, they are taking on more responsibilities," Davis said. "They should be compensated appropriately for those extra duties.

Davis explained that while schools currently receive funding for each student attending, they are assessed penalties when classroom sizes are exceeded. His legislation would remove those penalties and instead redirect the money to compensate the teachers who have extra students in their classrooms.

HB 2009 also would change class-size limits to 18 students in kindergarten, 20 in grades first through third and 24 in grades four through six. Under the bill, teachers would be paid a stipend of $1,250 for every student over the size limit, capped at $5,000.

"This bill doesn't take needed money away from our schools, but instead rewards those teachers called upon to take on more work," he said.

Davis said he concentrated on elementary classrooms because those are where size limits make the greatest impact. He acknowledged that fewer students in a classroom is optimal, but said in the current teacher shortage schools are struggling to find enough qualified teachers to meet classroom demands. He also pointed to a number of districts that already are exempt from meeting the class-size requirement. His bill will create a more equal playing field among all schools, he said.

Davis said he collaborated on the bill with several thousand teachers from across the state as well as various teaching organizations and other teaching colleagues in the House of Representatives. He said there are 27 states that have a similar model.

The bill now moves to the state Senate where it is authored by Sen. Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah.


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