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OKCPS working to end teacher shortage

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OKLAHOMA CITY - As Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) get ready to start the school year Monday, the effort to recruit teachers continues.

A teacher shortage would result in more substitutes in the classrooms.

One former "sub" is jumping back into the profession full-time.

Patti Hagerman is rested and ready to return to her second grade classroom at Horace Mann Elementary.

She retired a year ago from teaching, but things have changed.

"I miss the kids," she said Tuesday. "I miss watching them grow and change and I miss the activities with them."

Hagerman also got a phone call last week from the principal, talking about the shortage of teachers.

"When he said he was having a hard time finding teachers for Horace Mann, I decided I wanted to go back so I can help," said Hagerman.

So why is there a shortage of teachers?

"It's hard to start a household on the salary that's offered," Shannon Freeman, the OKCPS Director of Recruitment, said Tuesday. "Not only in Oklahoma City, but in the state of Oklahoma."

Freeman said fewer college students are pursuing teaching degrees.

One possible reason: the average starting salary of a teacher with no experience and a bachelor's degree is $33,150.

States like Texas pay more and attract more teachers south of the Red River.

Freeman said the legislature could help recruitment with a pay increase for teachers.

"Then to retain them, we're going to have to take care of people in this profession," she said.

The new district Superintendent, Rob Neu, recently said, "I told the board, that if we're having this conversation again next year, you won't have to fire me. I'll resign. This is unacceptable."

The district has also launched a social media campaign to inspire new teachers.

"I thought I'm not going to leave them empty handed when I can maybe do something," Hagerman said.

Freeman said the district is also starting a budget specifically for recruiting instead of having principals oversee hiring.

They're recruiting nationwide.

MORE: Click here for more information on Oklahoma City Public Schools.