LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - At Lawton's School Board meeting on Tuesday, a raise for support staff was approved so that no one working for the district will make less than $8 an hour.
They also dedicated funding in this year's budget to give $100 to every teacher for much-needed school supplies. The decision was passed with little discussion from the board.
Now, for this next fiscal year, support staff like bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and administrative assistants get a 25-cent raise. And temporary employees like substitute teachers will get 8 dollars an hour.
Deighan says that he wants the district to stay competitive when it comes to employee wages. During this time when educational budgets are being slashed, he wants to keep staff salaries above average to keep and attract good employees to work for the district.
"Without our support staff, we wouldn't have school,” said Deighan. “We couldn't get our kids to school on the buses, we wouldn't be able to feed them."
Deighan says the raises voted on at the board meeting, weren't a spontaneous decision. This time last year, he made it a necessity to revisit and raise the wages of different divisions of the L-P-S staff. And this year it was support and temporary staff's turn to get a slight bump.
Both of these raises amount to about $400,000 of the district's $117 million budget.
"In every case I wish we could do more that was responsible, but we have to do what we can that's responsible and sustainable that we can make sure that we are able to keep up, and do it every year from here after," said Deighan.
And for the money for teacher's classroom supplies, Deighan admits he got the idea from the Duncan Public School's Foundation, that did the same thing.
"Somebody just said why can't we do that?"
So, $93,000 of the district's budget was carved out to give teachers a helping hand.
"Our teachers invest in our kids in ways we can't imagine,” said Deighan. “And I know every teacher out there is buying things for his or her classroom. So anything we can do to support that."
Deighan says he hopes his staff recognizes this small gesture as appreciation for what they do every day, and wishes he could give more.
"These are some very small steps, probably over-due small steps,” said Deighan. “I do believe our staff deserve much more and we are going to give as much as we can every year, as funds allow, and take care of them the best we can."
As for teacher pay raises, Deighan is putting that review on hold until the November vote on Oklahoma SQ 779.
If Oklahomans vote in favor of the question, the state sales tax will increase by one percent, and over half of the $615 million generated a year will go toward public school teacher raises.
Also at the board meeting, they approved the district's budget for the 2017 fiscal year. They estimate a $124 million in revenue, which is about the same as last year, and budgeted $117 million in spending.