Teacher bonus plan advances
A bill that would develop a public school teacher and leader effectiveness evaluation system won approval Monday by a House subcommittee. The House budget subcommittee on common education voted 7-0 to pass Senate Bill 316. It now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will decide if it should advance to the House floor. The bill calls for teachers who receive a superior rating to get a $1,000 bonus and teachers with a highly effective rating to receive a $500 bonus annually. The bill's author, Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, said the program would replace the National Board Certified Teachers program, but it could exist if lawmakers decided to keep the national program.
School year extension fails
A House subcommittee voted Monday not to pass a bill that would increase the public school year from 180 to 185 days. The budget subcommittee on common education voted 4-3 not to pass Senate Bill 268. A main concern was money. It's expected that extending the public school calendar to 185 days would cost the state an additional $168 million.
Budget suggestions offered
A conservative think tank released its budget suggestion Monday to lawmakers and the governor, saying that its proposal could reduce the state's top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.75 percent without reducing funding for core services such as education, transportation and public safety. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs suggests no longer funding nonessential agencies, such as the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority and the Space Industry Development Authority. Some state services, such as those provided by the Department of Human Services, the Tourism and Recreation Department and the Corrections Department, should be privatized, the group said. Changes should also be made to the state employee health insurance programs and to scrutinize state programs using federal funds.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU