In an effort to attract and retain quality educators, Edmond Public Schools (EPS) is raising the starting teacher salary to $40,000, $3,000 more than the Oklahoma state minimum.
This comes months after teachers left their classrooms in a walkout to the capitol, demanding better pay and additional resources for their students.
“It is a very good thing,” (EPS) teacher and Oklahoma Christian University alumna Kayla England said. “Teachers are not only educators in the classroom, they are nurses, moms, counselors, therapists and many other things these kids may need. With the raise, we can see that we are acknowledged for all of the influence we have. We have more support than before and that is encouraging.”
According to the Edmond Sun, EPS also agreed to several of the Edmond Association of Classroom Teachers’ other requests, including “balancing salary schedules so teachers with more experience receive larger pay increases, augmenting the legislated pay raise for certified staff who work more than the standard 181-day contract, providing the entire legislated pay raise as base pay and add employee’s teacher retirement contributions as a district-paid benefit and offering a step raise and other salary schedule adjustments.”
“To be able to offer first-year teachers a $40,000 starting salary has been an objective for some time,” EPS Superintendent Bret Towne said in an interview with KOCO last month. “Achieving that salary is more than symbolic. It signifies the value placed on teachers in this district. This is not the end, but it is a new starting point to strengthen teacher compensation and make Edmond more competitive with districts in neighboring states.”
Towne said he hopes the move sends a message to his current staff, those from outside districts and recent college graduates.
“We understand your personnel in school is your greatest asset,” Towne said. “We want to pay them competitive wages, so you can entice them to come here, and then retain them—keep them in your school district. The district and Board of Education are committed to supporting and rewarding all dedicated employees within our district and we believe that between the compensation increases provided by the state and the additional local funds, we have solidly met that commitment this year.”
In addition to the starting salary being increased, teachers with more experience will also see an increase in pay.
“I think the salary for Edmond teachers being increased is awesome, especially since this starting sum of $40,000 is for first-year teachers,” junior Justin McLeckie said. “The hope is that it increases in a responsible manner, where experienced teachers are earning the proper amount as well. I think it is a start in the right direction.”
According to the Edmond Public School’s website, teachers will begin to see additional benefits outside of their salary, including adding retirement as a district-paid benefit.
Senior education major Carly Spencer said the salary increase is a positive step in the right direction, but school districts must also ensure there is proper funding for supplies and textbooks.
“When I went to the capital during the walkout, I realized that the majority of people were actually protesting the lack of funding the schools received,” Spencer said. “If I were to teach in Oklahoma, I would want a fair salary but more importantly, I would want my school to be properly funded. That’s what we need more money for.”