Department of Education looking over hundreds of emergency teaching certificates

OKLAHOMA CITY – Districts across the state say they are doing everything they can to recruit teachers, but officials say that they still are having to approve emergency certifications.

Last year, the Oklahoma State Department of Education approved a record number of emergency certifications in order to have enough teachers at schools across the state.

As another way to keep teachers in the classroom, the Oklahoma Education Association began pushing lawmakers to approve a pay raise.

In March, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that it was seeking a $10,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years, a $5,000 pay raise for support professionals over three years, a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, and the restoration of funding for education and core government services.

Gov. Fallin signed a bill that raises teachers’ salaries by an average of $6,100. It also gives $1,250 raises for support staff and adds $50 million in education funding.

Even though a teacher pay raise was approved by the legislature, Edmond Public Schools said it need to implement a new policy to recruit teachers.

“We have about 85 to 95 openings right now,” said Randy Decker, Edmond Public Schools chief human resource officer.

The Edmond Public School Board voted to allow teachers and administrators who live out of the district to enroll their kids in the school system.

“School districts are looking at all avenues and ways to retain and recruit teachers,” Decker said.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced that it was looking over 384 emergency teaching certificates for June. In all, officials say 63 percent of those are renewals who are hoping to spend another year in the classroom.