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Superintendents devise plan to deal with strike

Superintendents from 25 school districts met Monday at Great Plains Technology Center to prepare for the possible April 2 Oklahoma teacher walkout.

What started out to be a meeting of Comanche County superintendents, lead by Cache Public Schools Superintendent Chad Hance, drew representatives from districts across Southwest Oklahoma. 

"We're all in the same boat. We're all looking for answers about what we can and cannot do ... and to plan" if the teachers do walkout, Hance said.

On hand to give insight into the possible walkout and what are the possible responses from the Legislature were Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and Don Ford, executive director of Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools. 

As superintendents, "the toughest thing ... is you're used to being in charge. Guess what, you're not in charge on this and can't be," Hime said. "That is what will get you in trouble. You have to say you are supporting your teachers and have the conversation with your teachers to find out what a critical mass of teachers means." 

That "critical mass" is the number of teachers  a different number per district  committed to walking out that would make it impossible for the district to hold school.

The walkout could occur if the state Legislature does not act by April 1 on the demand  stated by the Oklahoma Education Association on March 8  to approve a $6,000 pay raise for educators this year and restore critical funding to the classrooms. If the lawmakers don't act, OEA members will walk out the next day. Many teachers across the state, whether OEA members or not, have said they will walk, too.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, Hance said, adding that many districts will determine what is best for them in terms of the details.

"I can't do what Lawton can do  we're different animals. ... Today what we might want to discuss, what is everybody thinking," he said, adding that "Nothing is set in stone." 

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