State Question 779 on Oklahoma Ballots


Photo: Heather Manuel

Megan Davenport teaching her Anatomy class.

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According to SQ 779 advocate group, Yes for 779, the proposed allocation of funds would contribute nearly 70% of funds directly to public schools. Teacher pay raises would be included as part of these funds.

On Nov. 8, State Question 779 will be on the voting ballot, allowing voters to decide on a tax increase aimed at providing funding for education.

This proposes a one penny sales tax increase and the revenue received from this will be generated towards education. 69.5 percent will go to the common school districts, 19.25 percent will go to institutions under the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 3.25% will go to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, and 8% will go to the State Department of Education. If this ballot is approved teacher salary will increase by at least $5,000 annually.

Teachers at Ada High, like many teachers across Oklahoma, have strong opinions about State Question 779.

“While I do believe teachers need an increase in their salary, I know for a fact that there were better options available that the state legislative could have pursued, like repealing the income tax cut. However, since this is what is before people, we’re basically asking everybody to pony up some more money, just for a salary increase. That won’t solve the problems that the state legislature has created,” said Trevor Robbins, Ada High teacher.

Robbins is not the only Ada High teacher who thinks this is not a permanent solution to the budget crisis that Oklahoma school systems are facing.

Ada high band director and District 13 Senate candidate, Eric Hall, addressed SQ 779 on his campaign Facebook page.

“Teaching salaries in Oklahoma are a major factor in losing our best and brightest teachers, however, the gaps in education funding in our state will remain regardless of the outcome of SQ 779,” said Hall.

He also mentioned that losing teachers is a direct result of low teacher pay and most statistics agree with his statement. This along with other contributing factors has led to the creation of this SQ.

This has become such a popular topic, that Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future has recruited famous actor Toby Keith to show his support for SQ 779.

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics released their annual report. Their report provides the statistics that Oklahoma now falls short of the regional average, ranging from 1.4 billion to 100 million dollars shorter than the gap from the year before.

Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, in response to the report, said, “What this means is that throughout their public school career, my cousins’ kids in Kansas will have $40,000 to $45,000 more invested in their education than my daughter, who goes to school in Norman.”

It is important to do your research because although the voting ballot does give you the purpose of all the SQ’s, they aren’t always worded in a way that everyone can understand.

Comment your opinion below.