A special school board meeting was held Monday evening in the Waurika Library at 6:30 pm.
The subject of the meeting was to discuss any possible board action with regard to proposed teacher walkout.
Roxie Terry, Waurika Superintendent started the session saying that the teachers have not had a raise in nine years.
He also stated that their had been a decrease in school funding.
He said the teachers across the state feel that their back is against the wall. He said something has to be done. “We are losing teachers across the state.”
Terry went on to say that it was the Oklahoma Education Association who called for the Walkout scheduled for April 2, 2018.
He said the decision to participate in the walkout was not up to the administration.
A week ago the teachers voted 19-14 to stay in school and not participate in the walkout.
Someone had suggested that the vote was not fair. Mr. Simmons said later in the meeting that the vote was fair and teachers had not been influenced in anyway. He said he believed the teachers deserve a raise.
There was another vote taken. The second time 17 teachers voted to participate in the walkout and 14 teachers voted not to walkout. Two teachers didn’t participate in the second vote.
Terry went on to state that with 17 teachers being absent it wouldn’t be possible to have school.
He further stated that they needed to decide whether or not to support the teachers by passing a resolution stating such and allow them to leave without loss of pay and what to do about the extra-curricular activities left on the school calender.
Terry said that the OSSAA would probably not change the sports calender just because the teachers had participated in the walkout.
Nobody could say how long the walkout may last.
This became a concern the board wanted to discuss because of the need to fulfill the number of days required to complete the school year.
Terry informed the board the length of the teacher’s absence was up to the teachers.
The last time there was a walkout, Terry said that the teachers were only absent from school for about four days.
Currently, Waurika has five days that they can use between now and the end of school that can be missed without having to have any makeup days.
Anything over those five days would require another day be tacked on to the end of the year for each day missed.
Waurika has 24 working days that have to be fulfilled starting April 2, 2018.
The walkout would affect support people Terry said. It could even possibly hurt their pay. (The board voted to continue to pay support staff if there is a walkout).
According to Mr. Terry, Red River VoTech will still be conducting classes and the school will continue to run a bus to Red River.
The special education bus that takes students to Walters will continue to run each school day.
An immediate question that was asked was “Who will take the students to the extra-curricular activities?” The answer was that some teachers had volunteered to take students to the scheduled sport activities that are on the schedule. This would become a point of contention later in the meeting.
The concern the board expressed was in essence that not teaching in the classroom and yet still participating in athletics was setting a bad example for the students— as if to say that sports is more important than education.
The board wanted to know what was meant by “work stoppage” and Mr. Terry said that it meant that all classroom instruction would be suspended. The teachers would not be in the classrooms.
The next question that was asked was “when will the walkout end?”
There was no definite answer to that question.
The board did vote to support the teachers and not penalize them financially for participating in the walkout. Board members expressed their support for the teachers having a raise and that they appreciate all that they do for our students.
Board members expressed that if the teachers were walking out that it should encompass all activities and not just classroom activities. Otherwise it defeats the purpose. Therefore, if the teachers walk out on April 2, there will be no further school activities until the teachers return to their contracted duties in the classrooms.
According to Mr. Terry, on Tuesday afternoon, the day after the emergency board meeting, 65% of the teachers decided to not participate in the walkout.
Mr. Terry felt confident that there should be enough teachers present to have school this coming Monday.
If the situation changes we will post it on our website at www.waurikanewsjournal.com.