We were pleased to learn that the Lawton Public Schools Board of Education recently voted to give pay raises to teachers.

The Board voted last week to amend the pay schedule for certified personnel to reflect the pay raise that was included in the State of Oklahoma budget signed into effect by Gov. Kevin Stitt in late May, following action by the State Legislature. At the time, legislative officials said it was the second consecutive year that Oklahoma public school teachers had received pay raises (non-certified personnel were not included as they were last school year). The adjustment was projected to affect 97 percent of the state’s teachers, legislators said in May.

The pay raises will apply to someone working full time as a teacher, principal, supervisor, administrator, counselor, librarian, or certified or registered nurse, which also is the definition Lawton Public Schools is using. The pay increase will not include superintendents or those who are defined as non-certified staff, under the terms of the bill Stitt signed into law.

Lawton Public Schools teachers and other who fall under the definition of certified personnel will receive $1,220 more in their paychecks this school year. Pay will range from $39,662 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree to $64,768 for a teacher with a doctorate degree at Step 29.

Thanks to forward thinking by Interim Superintendent Tom Thomas, the first two months of those pay raises will be spread out over two paychecks, thereby lessening the amount of taxes withheld from each check and ensuring employees receive more money.

The pay increase will not include superintendents or those who are defined as non-certified staff, under the terms of the bill Stitt signed into law.

And therein is the downside to the pay raises. While we are thankful teachers will be receiving larger paychecks, we are disappointed that the state Legislature did not see fit to include funds for non-certified personnel also.

Non-certified personnel work just as hard as teachers. They are the ones who fix hot lunches for students, work in the office, do paperwork, sweep the floors and clean the toilets. Often they also are the ones who dispense hugs or call moms and dads to come pick up sick children.

While they may not wield a piece of chalk or grade homework papers, they are every bit as important to learning as certified personnel. They, too, deserve pay raises.

We know school budgets are tight, but we hope the Lawton Board of Education can find funds to reward hard-working non-certified personnel with pay raises also.

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