BACK TO SCHOOL: Classes to resume after teacher walkout

After two weeks of walking in support of educational funding at the state Capitol, Yukon teachers and students will head back to the classroom Monday.

Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth announced the teachers’ decision to resume classes in a letter posted to the district’s website Thursday. Classes remained out Friday to allow teachers one final day of protesting.

Simeroth said in the letter that two-thirds of the district’s teachers have voted to return to class beginning Monday. The district will continue to send a contingent to the state Capitol each day next week. Simeroth also encouraged community leaders to join those teachers in their endeavors.

“There are many things left to fight for as we head back to school next week and as when we come back to school in August. YPS will work closely with our teachers’ associations to develop an YPS Advocacy group that can maintain a focus throughout the year and be a constant presence at the Capitol during the legislative session,” the letter states.

Simeroth said the district’s last day of classes will be June 1, based on returning to class Monday.

He said the school day will remain the same for everyone except students at the high school. Those students will see minor changes. However, those details were not immediately provided.

Simeroth said he was proud of what Yukon’s teachers have accomplished since the walkout began April 2.

Hundreds of teachers have traveled each day to the state Capitol to rally for additional funding for education. More than two dozen literally hiked 14.5 miles from Yukon High School to the Capitol as part of those efforts last week.

“I cannot express enough the respect and admiration I have for Yukon educators and support staff. Since the beginning of the walkout on April 2nd, Yukon employees have professionally and passionately expressed the need for our state to fund public education, not just for Yukon, but the entire state. In my humble opinion, this speaks to the hearts of our staff and community and how they selflessly want the best for all students. This is why Yukon is the destination district for anyone wanting the best education provided by the best people in the state,” he wrote.

In addition, he said that because of their efforts and the efforts of teachers across the state, funding for education is at an all-time level.

“Teachers and support staff received a raise from the state Legislature, this had not happened since 1990 and was nowhere in sight prior to the teacher movement on the Capitol. Per pupil funding is now at an all-time high, the overall common education budget has increased by $543,954,340. I say all that to say that the teachers have accomplished an historical increase in funding that many deemed impossible based upon the history of our Legislature. Oklahoma teachers have changed the path of education moving forward,” Simeroth wrote.

Attempts to reach Yukon Professional Educators Association President Vicki Bonny were unsuccessful.

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