Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 12, 2011

Brown files teacher stipend legislation

TAHLEQUAH — State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, has filed legislation he says will ensure National Board-Certified Teachers receive the stipends promised to them by the state.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi decided recently to pull the $5,000 bonus for teachers who successfully completed the three-year process to become National Board-certified.

Brown said House Bill 2186, titled Merit-Based Pay for Professional Development, would establish a dedicated revenue source from which funds for the NBCT program will be protected and held harmless from budget cuts.

The funding would be subtracted from general-revenue funds certified each year by the State Board of Equalization, then transferred to the National Board Certification Revolving Fund and distributed by the State Board of Education to eligible teachers.

Brown said the process mirrors a mechanism already in place for funding the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program.

“In my opinion, both the Legislature and Superintendent Barresi are derelict in their duties by failing to honor the statutory requirement of funding these bonuses,” said Brown. “I can’t think of any professional who wouldn’t be upset if they earned an increase in pay and then were, without notice or adequate explanation, told they were receiving this year what amounts to a significant pay decrease.”

Under state law, or what is called the Education Leadership Oklahoma Act, Tthe State Board of Education shall provide all teachers who attain National Board certification a bonus in the amount of $5,000 annually no later than Jan. 31 for as long as they maintain their National Board certification and are teaching in the classroom full-time in an Oklahoma public school.”

Tahlequah High School teacher Chuck Pack, who has achieved his National Board certification, and also sits on the board of the Oklahoma Education Association, said Barresi’s actions are “ludicrous.”

“She is anti-public education,” said Pack. “The state entered into a covenant with teachers, and said if you’ll do this process, we’ll give you a bonus. For me, it was an 18-month process, 400 hours, every Saturday, August through March ... of me sacrificing huge quantities of time from my family. So this hit me personally. To have that taken away – and then for Ms. Barresi to ask the school districts to pay the bonus – it’s ludicrous! She wants to take text book money away from students? It doesn’t pass the smell test.”

As Pack indicated in his statement, Barresi had suggested school districts fund the NBCT bonuses by using some $33 million allocated for text books.

Pack said National Board certification is a research-proven method, a “key to success in the classroom.” It improves teacher quality, he said, and as a result, improves the learning opportunities of students.

“There’s research to back that up,” said Pack. “So the OEA is identifying National Board-certified Teachers in districts to go to their legislators. We’re asking them to call, write or email them.”

Pack said Barresi’s budget plans were put in front of the state’s Board of Education at the 11th hour. Pack acknowledged former Sen. Herb Rozell, of Tahlequah, for taking a stand against the move.

“Sen. Rozell has been a champion for students, teachers, communities, and National Board-certified Teachers,” said Pack.

When Barresi placed her budget in front of state school board members, including Rozell, and demanded they approve it immediately to meet a deadline, Rozell wouldn’t do so without reading it, Pack said.

During a vote of the board, Rozell and two others voted against approving the budget. The 3-3 vote led to Barresi’s breaking the tie and approving the budget, according to Pack.

The OEA is now working with legislators to create some type of supplemental for National Board Certified Teachers, Pack said. He said that would come in the form of a line item that would go directly to the State Department of Education, forcing the department to pay the bonus.

Brown said state law requires salary bonus funds to be specifically appropriated by the Legislature to the state’s Board of Education, but accuses the Legislature of appropriating money to the board in a lump sum. That, he said, led to the Legislature’s failure to direct the board on how to expend the money or requiring that it give a certain amount to NBCT bonuses.

Barresi then had the authority to adhere to the statute outlining bonus salaries, but chose not to direct dollars to the NBCT program, Brown said.

“I filed this bill as I have grave concerns as to the superintendent’s intentions to do right by our best and brightest teachers in our state,” said Brown.

“Barresi has already indicated she will not pursue supplemental appropriations for this valuable incentive program, and I question if she will fight for our teachers in the future to receive this merit-based pay.”

Tahlequah Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shannon Goodsell agrees with Pack and Brown.

“I believe the state has made a promise to National Board-certified Teachers,” said Goodsell. “They should pay their bills. This is according to state law.”

Goodsell said it’s “hard to give an answer” on whether the district could take action to pay bonuses to National Board Certified Teachers, “when we don’t even have a budget from the state.”

“The state has been negligent in telling school districts how much money it will have to operate next school year,” said Goodsell. “The deadline for that was in April. Here we are, in July, with no budget. It’s absolutely a deplorable situation.”

Brown said he is “very disheartened” by Barresi’s attitude toward public school teachers, as well as her idea to pursue private partnerships with schools to take care of the bonus cuts.

“Barresi has already proved her allegiance to charter and private schools over public schools in our state, and given the ease in which she pulled the rug out from under our best teachers by shortchanging their salary, I can’t help but wonder if she really wants our public school system to improve or to fail,” said Brown.

This week, Barresi acknowledged to the Tulsa World that there are “a lot of painful decisions reflected in that budget. But we have to deal with real numbers and real dollars, in this case nearly $100 million less real dollars for education.”

A State Department of Education spokesman told that newspaper Oklahomans “have made it clear they want reform and change. [Barresi] has been elected to do a job, and she is going to move on and do that job.”

Brown’s bill will be assigned to a House committee for consideration when legislators reconvene Monday, Feb. 6.

Oklahoma is ranked ninth in the nation for the number of National Board-certified teachers in its public school system, according to Pack. TPS has more than 20 teachers who are either National Board-certified, or have taken the test and are awaiting results.

Approximately 3,000 current Oklahoma teachers have achieved the honor.

Text Only
Local News
  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014

  • Briggs.jpg Local man hit with assault, burglary charges

    Prosecutors have formally charged a Tahlequah man accused of breaking into a motel room, tying a rope around a man’s neck and stabbing him repeatedly with a syringe.
    Jimmy Dale Briggs Jr., 33, is charged with first-degree burglary, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of threatening to perform an act of violence.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boy whose mom scolded deputies in trouble again

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 15-year-old theft suspect Monday night after he allegedly assaulted his brother.
    Deputy Kim Novak said authorities were dispatched to a home and ultimately took the teen into custody. While there, they also discovered items that had been reported stolen, including a bed and several tools.
    Novak said the teen is the same boy who has previously been found to be in possession of stolen items.

    April 16, 2014

  • plane-crash-1-a.jpg Plane crash victims recovering

    Two Arkansas men remained in a Tulsa hospital Monday after the plane they were flying crashed into a wooded area in Cookson.
    According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 1946 Ercoupe 415 crashed under “unknown circumstances” about a mile from the Tenkiller Air Park in Cookson Saturday morning.
    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 75-year-old John McCreary and 85-year-old Albert Demarco Jr., both of Ozark, Ark., were flown from Cookson to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • walker-terrance.jpg Man taken for blood sample confuses hospital with hotel

    Tahlequah police say an Austin, Texas, man stopped Saturday mistook a local hospital for a hotel when he was taken to have his blood drawn.
    Officer Cory Keele’s affidavit says 20-year-old Terrance Walker was driving south on Muskogee Avenue at about 2 a.m. Saturday, swerving from one line to another.
    Keele tried to stop the car near Muskogee and Chickasaw, and Walker eventually slowed to a stop near South Street.
    Walker opened the car door as Keele approached. The officer said Walker had dilated pupils.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ennis-scottie.jpg Knife-cutting incident lands man in jail

    A Tahlequah man jailed for allegedly cutting a woman with a kitchen knife was released on a recognizance bond Monday.
    Scottie Lee Ennis, 42, was arrested after Officer Austin Yates was sent to Tahlequah City Hospital late Friday night.
    There, Yates spoke with Jennifer Pennell, who had apparently suffered a stab wound to her arm.
    Pennell told Yates she and her husband, Ennis, had gone to Dewain’s Place earlier in the evening, and while at the bar, a man bought her a drink.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • hawley-jeremy.jpg Tahlequah man bonds out after arrest for assault

    A 22-year-old Tahlequah man bonded out of jail Monday after his weekend arrest on domestic assault charges.
    Jeremy Hawley was booked into jail Sunday for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor and interfering with a 911 call.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge