Officials with Edmond Public Schools are having to get creative as they work to recruit an ever diminishing pool of qualified teachers.
“When we go to job fairs, there’s not as many students coming to our booths and talking with us about positions,” said Randy Decker, chief human resources officer for the Edmond Public School District.
The numbers tell the story.
Three years ago, universities across the state graduated more than 2,000 prospective teachers.
This year, it’s predicted to be about half that: just over a thousand.
“If you were to calculate the number of positions that will be open, that will not touch the need,” said Dr. Bryan Duke, assistant dean of the College of Education at the University of Central Oklahoma.
In Edmond alone, they’ll need about a third of that, around 300, this next school year.
“Certainly, if you’re a teacher, this is a time that, if you want to look for a job, you are in a buyer’s market,” Decker said.
“I have faith that, every time there’s a downswing, there’s going to be an upswing, and so I’m hoping I’m getting in at a time where I can make a difference and help that upswing kind of take off,” said Keri McComas, an education major at Oklahoma City University.
McComas said Oklahoma is home and she will stay no matter the climate.
“The money may be tempting, but my family’s here,” McComas said.
Other students said, while they’d love to stay, it just might not be possible.
“If I go across the border, I mean base line, it’s at least an extra $30,000 a year, at least. It’s really hard to justify staying here,” said Liz Miano, an education major at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Districts across the state are now having to figure out what to do if they can’t find enough teachers.
“Does that mean that class sizes could go up? It’s possible. So, how do you handle that? Because, certainly, mainly of our classrooms are not build for a lot larger classes,” Decker said.