The April meeting of the Creek County Democratic Party took place at Freddie’s in Sapulpa. County Chairperson, Stan Johnson, called the meeting to order at 6:37 p.m.
The Chair introduced the guest Speaker, Kim Littrell of the Oklahoma Education Association.
Ms. Littrell taught for 11 years before going to work for the Oklahoma Education Association as a teaching and learning specialist until two years ago when she became the Student Coordinator for the Student Oklahoma Education Association, a division of the OEA. The SOEA is a recognized student organization in 18 Oklahoma universities and colleges that have a teacher preparation curriculum. In this capacity, Ms. Littrell works with students that are preparing to be teachers.
The topic of discussion was titled “Promises Unkept.” Ms. Littrell spoke about the “Together We Are Stronger” initiative put in place by the OEA two years ago. The primary goals of that initiative are:
- A $10,000 total raise by year three
- Restore public education funding back to pre-2008 levels
- Raises for support personnel
- COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) for retired educators
Ms. Littrell feels that the worst thing that has happened with legislative initiatives this year, is that COLA has stalled. She said there was support in the House for it but not the Senate. She noted that a fellow OEA member had spoken to a state senator who said the Senate could not see what the rush was to pass a COLA bill. Her associate explained this has been an ongoing issue for eleven years.
The OEA has pushed for 150 million in increased education funding, currently, the consensus is the increase will be between 100-120 million. Another key issue for the OEA is the fact there are no raises planned for support personnel. Littrell said the support pay is “absolutely dismal.” The current average support pay is only $13,000 a year. After paying for insurance, many employees come home with nothing, and many qualify for state aid. There are no bills pending to address this problem. The legislators told OEA representatives they think the funding for support raises should be up to the districts as part of their funding formula.
Ms. Littrell also discussed some of the upcoming bills such as SB 407 , which increases the amount that can be donated to The Equal Opportunity Scholarship to private schools. It also creates tax deductions for donations to public schools. She expressed concern that the provision would hurt poor districts that do not have wealthy benefactors. She also stated that the State should fully fund public education and not rely on private donations. A member of the audience brought up the fact that donors might specify what the money is to be used for, such as for sports, when academic departments need the money.
In conclusion, Ms. Littrell urged everyone to contact his or her state senator or state representative about the upcoming bills and the problems facing Oklahoma public education.
After discussing upcoming festivals that the CCD participates in, the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.