Tuesday, March 12, 2024

House passes bill to fix teacher signing bonus issue

McBride Passes Teacher Signing Bonus Fix

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 8th) – Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, this week passed a bill in the Oklahoma House of Representatives that he said would fix the State Department of Education's flawed signing bonus for teachers returning to Oklahoma public school classrooms.

House Bill 4017 directs the Oklahoma State Board of Education to establish a $7,000 annual signing bonus program for teachers who return to teaching in state public schools beginning with the 2024-25 school year and who agree to serve for five years. The signing bonus shall be paid in five equal annual installments not to exceed $35,000 per participant.

"The State Department of Education did wonderful work in recruiting more than 500 teachers to return to Oklahoma public school classrooms," McBride said. "But this legislation puts some safeguards in place to address some issues with the way the former bonus was crafted. This will protect these teachers going forward so they can still be rewarded for choosing to help our kids but without the fear that their bonus could be clawed back."

McBride said the legislation was needed after reports surfaced earlier this year of teachers being asked to repay up to $50,000 in new teacher signing bonuses after the State Department of Education acknowledged the teachers were not eligible to receive the award in the first place.

McBride, who chairs the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee for Education, said he worked with Rep. Rhonda Baker, chair of the House Common Education Committee to develop the legislation.

HB4017 would require participating teachers to have at least three years of prior teaching experience and a valid or expired teaching certificate but they cannot have been employed by an Oklahoma public school in the past five years. They also must agree to teach fulltime for a minimum of five years and meet additional requirements set by the board. Verification of eligibility is required each year. The bonus does not count towards salary calculations or retirement benefits. The legislation directs the payment to be made to the teacher by Sept. 1 each year.

HB4017 passed the House on a vote of 79-16. It moves the Senate where it is authored by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

Mark McBride serves District 53 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of Cleveland County. Baker serves House District 60, which includes part of Canadian County.


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