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Teachers visit the capitol to put pressure on lawmakers while waiting on budget

Posted at 3:55 PM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 19:18:29-04

TULSA, Okla. — Teachers are putting pressure on lawmakers in an effort to see a budget from the capitol. The deadline was April 1. Now 6 weeks later, educators are starting to get impatient.

Union Public Schools educator Blake Martin teaches fifth-grade reading, a job she's had for three years. With budget challenges, she's considered moving across state lines, and she said some are worried about keeping their position altogether.

"A lot of people are wondering is my position going to be cut, especially newer teachers," Martin said. "They're the ones that are kind of on the chopping block. When positions get cut those probationary teachers are the first ones to go, and so for a lot of people that means do I need to move? Do I need to move districts, states, cities?"

Many teachers are feeling optimistic hearing the budget discussions at the capitol. Now the concern is timing as districts look at how many hires they can make in the months ahead.

"I love that both plans that have been presented include a teacher pay raise and classroom funding, both are really important that we've been pushing for," Martin said. "So that definitely seems to be on the agenda for everyone."

These decisions will also impact things like counselors. At Union Eighth-Ggrade Center they have two to serve a population of about 1,200 students. It's something Brendan Jarvis worries about while teaching at the Union 6th/7th Grade Center.

"Almost every teacher I know is talking about how we need more counselors. We don't have nearly enough to deal with the issues that students are dealing with today and those things can really help us," he said.

Ultimately, educators are hopeful class sizes will go down next year.

"A main reason that teachers are leaving the state is not just pay but also class sizes and supports to make it easier for teachers to do what they want to do which is to reach kids and make a difference in their lives," Jarvis said.

Multiple teachers said they're hopeful to see a budget before the school year ends. For districts like Union, that's only a week away.

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