FORT GIBSON — Fort Gibson teachers are set to return to class Tuesday, now that an increase in teacher pay and education funding is law.
However, Superintendent Derald Glover said that if the Legislature backtracks, or more legislation is needed, teachers are ready to walk.
Glover discussed school options Thursday night during a public meeting at the high school auditorium. The district had agreed to suspend classes for up to two weeks so teachers could join a statewide walkout starting Monday if the Legislature did not agree to improve education funding.
Monday already was a school holiday. Teachers and supporters still plan on joining a statewide march at the capitol on Monday, he said.
"Our consensus was that if it did pass and it was approved, then we would return back to school and move on," Glover said. "It did happen. The governor did sign it today. It is law. There are questions about it."
He said the raise is guaranteed. However, there is concern that the Legislature could remove one funding mechanism, a hotel tax.
He said that if the Legislature steps back on funding, "we're mobilized and ready at any time to go out because we may need to.
"We want everybody to be prepared for that," he said, adding that the law "is not the perfect bill."
"The teacher pay was pretty good for the first year," he said. "They need to continue to work on it. Support pay needs to be higher. They did give money for the schools. That's helpful."
Fort Gibson resident Melissa Parnell said she left education after 20 years because she could not afford to continue.
"Parents, please understand that, if a walkout is necessary, I encourage teachers to be in solidarity about that because the Legislature needs to see this," Parnell said. "I'm not a politician. I am not an administrator, but we have to pay our teachers well."
She said she made more money grooming dogs three days a week than she did teaching for 20 years. Parnell said she taught at Locust Grove, Wagoner, Tahlequah and Northeastern State University before ending her educational career in 2005.