Oklahoma districts struggle to find teachers as school year approaches

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Some Oklahoma districts are struggling to find teachers as the school year approaches.

School starts back in less than one month, but some districts don’t have enough staff. Now, schools are searching for a solution.

A lack of teachers and support staff across the state is what some call a trend but said investments and support could end that.

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“Our schools start in less than a month, and we are looking at ways to make sure to invest in our education system,” said Cari Elledge, vice president of the Oklahoma Education Association.

Open positions are throughout the metro as public schools look to hire in nearly every area.

“Unfortunately, this is going to have a lifetime of consequences for our students and for our workforce development,” Elledge said.

Elledge said the shortage is due to a lack of respect, salary and low numbers of incoming teachers.

“We have fewer and fewer people entering our teacher prep programs in college,” Elledge said.

Some districts have seen more openings. Moore Public Schools said, “In the single year I’ve been with MPS, teacher shortages have been a key concern.”

Other districts are almost fully staffed for the year.

“I can say that we’re actually doing pretty well. We are currently about 95% staffed,” said Crystal Raymond, media relations manager at OKCPS.

OKC Public Schools took action by hosting job fairs and offering hiring initiatives for certain positions and bilingual teachers.

“Making sure we don’t have overcrowding, that’s why we’re offering the hiring bonuses in those certain hard-to-fill areas,” Raymond said.

Some said that may not always be an option.

“We need to think about what it looks like in a rural community where there are fewer opportunities and growth,” Elledge said.

The Oklahoma Education Association said investing in schools has never been more important. They’re calling on lawmakers to help.

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