Saturday, February 03, 2024

State Senate Republicans announce Education priorities for '24 session

Senate Republicans Announce Education Priorities

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 31st) – Members of the Oklahoma Senate Education Committee today laid out their education initiatives for the upcoming regular session that begins Monday. [listen to a recording here]

Chairman of the Senate Education committee, Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, was joined by fellow members Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, Sen. Kristen Thompson, R-Edmond and Sen. Ally Seifried, R-Claremore to lay out a robust plan that includes additional teacher pay raises, advanced reading criteria, initiatives to get more teachers into the classroom and reforms to higher education.

“This plan is ambitious and will build on the successes we had last year,” Sen. Pugh said. “If we want to get to where we need to be to improve education in Oklahoma, we must put our priorities in the right places. This slate of legislation is targeted and will put us on the right trajectory to what Oklahoma kids deserve, while rewarding teachers working in our classrooms and deliver much needed reforms. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to see these measures come to fruition.”

“I’m proud of the work we’ve put into this year’s education agenda. We are addressing important issues from teacher retention and recruitment to improving student outcomes,” Sen. Thompson said. “Oklahoma students deserve a high-quality education, every single day, so they are college, military or career ready when they graduate.”

“This comprehensive agenda will help strengthen our education system by better supporting our teachers, finding innovative ways to get more highly trained educators into the classroom, and providing more learning opportunities for our students,” Sen. Pemberton said. “This will continue to build on the tremendous accomplishments we’ve made in recent years for Oklahoma’s students and schools.”

“I’m looking forward to building on the momentum we started last session to strengthen and reform education in Oklahoma,” Seifried said. “This plan focuses on critical areas to improve classroom learning and student outcomes, address the ongoing teacher shortage, and help support our local school districts and families.”

To review a copy of the 2024 Senate Education Bills, click here [or below].

2024 Senate Education Bills

  • Senate Bill 466 (Sen. Kristen Thompson) a carryover bill from 2023, directs special education teachers to be paid a minimum of 10% differential, rather than 5%, above the prevailing wage paid other teachers in the same district.
  • Senate Bill 1213 (Sen. Ally Seifried) directs the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to allocate funds to accredited teacher education programs to provide $3,000 stipends for student teachers. Stipends would be provided in three equal installment payments of $1,000 every four weeks during the semester of student teaching.
  • Senate Bill 1225 (Sen. Adam Pugh) creates the Higher Education Deferred Maintenance Revolving Fund for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
  • Senate Bill 1226 (Sen. Adam Pugh) creates the Higher Education Property Insurance Revolving Fund for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
  • Senate Bill 1256 (Adam Pugh) removes the requirement for a school district to provide certain matching funds for salary increases for teachers who are granted advanced, lead, and master teaching certificates, and instead directs they come from lottery funds. It also exempts from collective bargaining the selection criteria; the designation of advanced, lead, and master teachers; and any associated salary increases.
  • Senate Bill 1257 (Sen. Adam Pugh) removes language placing limits on the amount of general fund carryover a school district is allowed as well as the penalties for exceeding those limits.
  • Senate Bill 1258 (Sen. Adam Pugh) removes the requirement for the State Board of Education to approve a school district’s use of its general fund for capital expenditures and allows a local board of education to approve such expenditures.
  • Senate Bill 1311 (Sen. Adam Pugh) creates the Veterans Entering Teaching (VET) Act and Program to provide tuition and mandatory fee assistance to students who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces within 3 years to earn a degree from an approved teacher preparation program at an Oklahoma college or university if they agree to teach in an Oklahoma school district for three consecutive years.
  • Senate Bill 1313 (Sen. Adam Pugh) provides a teacher pay increase of $1,500 for those with 0-4 years of experience; $2,000 for those with 5-9 years of experience; $2,500 for teachers with 10-14 years of experience; and $3,000 for those with 15-25 years of experience beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
  • Senate Bill 1314 (Sen. Adam Pugh) directs the State Department of Education to create an incentive program for school districts that adopt phone-free campus policies. Incentive amounts would include $100,000 for districts with an average daily attendance (ADA) of up to 500 students for the previous school year; $500,000 for districts with an ADA of 501-1,500; and $1 million for districts with an ADA of more than 1,500.
  • Senate Bill 1315 (Sen. Adam Pugh) updates provisions regarding paid maternity leave for education employees by providing for adoption leave for eligible employees. It states that if both adoptive parents are employed by the same entity, they can split the six weeks of paid adoption leave. Individuals who qualify for maternity or adoption leave cannot be prohibited from using accrued sick leave after maternity and adoption leave have been exhausted, as long as such leave is used within twelve weeks of the birth or adoption of the employee’s child.
  • SB 1321 (Sen. Ally Seifried) establishes a three-year piolet program to incentivize phone-free spaces for student learning.
  • Senate Bill 1342 (Sen. Ally Seifried) creates the Oklahoma Teacher Recruitment Academy to be administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to provide tuition and mandatory fee assistance to individuals to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited teacher preparation program if they commit to teach in a public school in one of the critical shortage subject areas identified by the State Department of Education. The individual will be required to teach in the critical shortage subject area for one year for each academic year that assistance was received. 
  • Senate Bill 1357 (Sen. Adam Pugh) creates Alyssa’s Law, requiring each school district by July 1, 2025, to implement a mobile panic alert system.
  • Senate Bill 1358 (Sen. Adam Pugh) creates the Workforce Development Revolving Fund for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to increase the number of degrees granted to fulfill workforce needs in critical occupation areas identified by the Oklahoma Workforce Commission. It appropriates $200 million to the fund.
  • Senate Bill 1359 (Sen. Adam Pugh) prohibits the tuition and fee rates at institutions within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education from exceeding the rates approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for the 2023-24 academic year.
  • Senate Bill 1360 (Sen. Adam Pugh) directs an institution of higher education to grant waivers of room and board to individuals who are participating in or have received a partial or full Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. The waiver will expire five years from the date of enrollment.
  • Senate Bill 1395 (Sen. Adam Pugh) adds four members to the State Board of Education with two members appointed by the Senate Pro Tem and House Speaker. It also allows members to be removed by the appointing authority for cause.
  • Senate Bill 1520 (Sen. Dewayne Pemberton) modifies the earnings limit for retired educators. Those under 62 would be limited to the lesser of $30,000 or half of the member’s final average salary used to compute retirement benefits unless the earnings limitation allowed by the Social Security Administration was greater than $30,000. For those over the age of 62, the limit would be the lesser of $55,000 or half of the member’s final average salary used for retirement benefits.
  • Senate Bill 1521 (Sen. Dewayne Pemberton) directs participating school districts to give priority to a law enforcement official who is assigned by an agency but also allows a district to employ or contact with a retired law enforcement official or a licensed security guard.
  • Senate Bill 1522 (Sen. Dewayne Pemberton) allows Redbud School Grants to be used to pay property insurance premiums for school facilities.
  • Senate Bill 1558 (Sen. Kristen Thompson) creates the Learn Everywhere Act, allowing students attending a public school district or public charter school to be eligible for extended learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. It allows a student to request credit for an extended learning opportunity, which may be granted by the school district or charter school or the State Board of Education. This requires each school district board of education and charter school governing body to adopt an extended learning opportunity policy. Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, it allows students in 9th-12th grades to request credit for a course by demonstrating understanding of subject area content standards.
  • Senate Bill 1691 (Sen. Adam Pugh) directs the Commission for Educational Quality and Accountability, rather than the State Board of Education, to take the lead in conducting an educator supply-and-demand study every three years.
  • Senate Bill 1692 (Sen. Adam Pugh) modifies the initial calculation of State Aid for charter schools and full-time statewide virtual charter schools. It provides for the calculation in every subsequent school year of weighted average daily membership and State Aid for charter schools and virtual charter schools.
  • Senate Bill 1768 (Sen. Kristen Thompson) restricts virtual instruction days in Oklahoma’s public schools to take place only in the event of inclement weather, staff shortages caused by illness, building maintenance issues, or if found necessary by school administrators.
  • Senate Bill 1904 (Sen. Adam Pugh) allows a statewide virtual charter school or a school district operating a full-time virtual education program to administer student assessments in a virtual setting that best meets the needs of the students. If a virtual charter school or school district operating a full-time virtual program chooses to do so, the bill directs that certain requirements be followed, including that the student takes the assessment on an assigned date and time, that the student attends a synchronous assessment session, that a certain student-toproctor ratio remain below a certain level, and that an approved adult is physically present for the duration of the assessment administration.
  • Senate Bill 1905 (Sen. Adam Pugh) directs the Commission for Educational Quality and Accountability, rather than the State Board of Education, to ensure that certain reading competencies are included in the competencies for special education teachers. It directs teachers to be provided training in remediation strategies in the science of reading. It also requires teacher candidates enrolled in early childhood education or elementary education to pass a comprehensive assessment to measure their teaching skills in reading.
  • Senate Bill 1906 (Sen. Adam Pugh) renames the Reading Sufficiency Act to the Strong Readers Act and directs students in K-4th grade be screened for reading skills throughout the school year. It modifies the interventions for students who are not meeting grade-level targets and directs K-4th grade students who exhibit a reading deficiency at any time to receive an individual reading intervention plan within 30 days. The bill further requires 3rd graders who are identified as having significant reading deficiencies to be provided intensive intervention services until they demonstrate grade level proficiency.  


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