LAWTON, OK (KSWO) – Thursday, the Lawton Board of Education voted on several agenda items that will affect students, teachers and parents if a state-wide teacher walkout occurs on April 2.
Much of the conversation at the meeting was in regards to a bill that was signed by Governor Mary Fallin Thursday afternoon. The bill is aimed at providing an average $6,000 pay raise for teachers across the state.
Superintendent Tom Deighan said no one really understands the ins and outs of the bill signed yet and they want to wait and gather as much information about it as possible before acting. Because of that, they decided not to enact a long-term district closure, instead choosing to take things one day at a time.
Deighan said right now, the plan is for teachers and staff to descend upon the capitol on Monday. As for the rest of the week, Deighan said that will be up to the teachers.
"A poll will be conducted from noon to 5 p.m. on April 2. The results and the superintendent's decision will be shared by 6 p.m. that night. We are out of school that day, so staff will need to check their email at home," Deighan said.
Regardless of how long the walkout continues, Thursday, the school board voted to allow extracurricular activities, such as sports, to go on as planned, though it will be on a school by school basis. Each principal will be responsible for ensuring the necessary staff is in place, district policy is followed and the students remain safe.
"If for some reason the principal can't ensure those things, the principal must make that decision. But so far, the feedback is from the secondary principals and Mr. Dees, they believe most coaches and most activities would be. I cannot guarantee to anybody that any activity will happen because there are a lot of moving parts. We're going to leave that up to the site athletic directors, principals and activity directors," Deighan said.
A decision was also made that will give all 12-month staffers three options on how to handle the walkout. First, they can choose an assignment of work during any closure to avoid the loss of pay. Second, they can choose to take a day of accrued leave, though they will be unable to use any sick days. Third, they will have the option to take a day of unpaid leave. Deighan said by handling these decisions now and waiting until more information becomes available to make more decisions, they can ensure they truly do what is best for the students and staff.
"From the beginning, the principals have asked that we proceed on two criteria, that everyone is involved and everyone is informed. This ensures that both happen before a decision is made," Deighan said.
The school board also approved the opening of feeding sites across town if the walkout occurs, but as of now, no times or locations of those sites have been determined.