Oklahoma State Board of Education approves Walters’ 2024 budget proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Board of Education unanimously approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2024, proposed by new State Superintendent Ryan Walters.

The budget was passed soon after the new board of education was sworn in.

The amended 2024 budget replaces and cuts what former State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister had in place by about $59 million. Part of the cuts include teacher pay.

“In looking at the budget, the big difference here that we’re going to point out is the amount going into the funding formula instead of the pay increase that was presented to this board by Superintendent Hofmeister, we have the incentive pay package that we are producing instead,” Walters said.

Incentive pay and formula take up more than 75 percent.

Essentially, formula means that each student gets a certain amount of funding based on several categories such as grade level, age, disability, poverty and location. This will determine how much funding goes to different schools.

Operational cost would increase slightly because of increase of students, but, Walters said, the State of Oklahoma has fewer teachers. Walters revealed his plan to give teachers incentive to stay in Oklahoma. He said teacher pay should match teacher performance.

Walters said his plan gets back to the basics of serving kids in classrooms.

Teacher incentive pay is a big piece of the pie. With a $150-million request, incentives proposed would range from $2,500 to $10 thousand.

“We believe that we have to find ways to find teachers who are doing a great job, number one, but also incentivize them as they continue to grow, and we see teachers that are getting better every year through professional development,” Walters said. “We have to keep these teachers. We have to retain these teachers. This is a very aggressive plan to do that, but it’s what we need for our teachers across the State of Oklahoma.”

The budget will be presented to lawmakers on Tuesday.

Budget increase proposal by the numbers:

  • The new budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024 totals at about $3.5 billion, an increase of $330 million from FY 2023
  • $150-million increase for teacher incentives, about half of what Hofmeister requested at $309 million
  • $108.9-million increase for student proficiency programs, focused on student literacy and reading
  • $66-million increase in operational costs, which Walters said is due to the increase of Oklahoma students
  • $4-million increase for instructional materials
  • $1.5-million increase for administrative support