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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Public Schools is setting out to fill open positions for the 2021-2022 school year. 

“Our kids deserve the best,” said Brad Herzer, Asst. Superintendent of HR, Safety, and Security for Oklahoma City Public Schools. 

Despite a lack of certified teachers statewide, the district says they are over 90% staffed, but they added they did see an increase in retirement numbers. 

“But that’s not to be unexpected after the year that we’ve had,” said Herzer. 

Each new teacher in the secondary science and math departments, and K-12 special education departments will get a one-time $1,500 stipend. 

Herzer says those subjects are historically difficult to fill. 

“Historically, those industries pay more than teaching,” he said. 

At the end of the previous school year, each teacher received a COVID-19 bonus of $1,500 and the district is giving all new and returning teachers an added $500 for supplies. 

Herzer says the money comes from federal dollars the district sets aside. 

“I wish we could do more, it’s a hard job but it’s a very rewarding job,” he said. 

We spoke with the Oklahoma Education Association earlier this week, when Crooked Oak announced their $2,500 bonus.

They tell us 2,700 teachers retired this year compared to around 1,300 last year. 

They added almost 20,000 have called in with retirement questions. 

“Teachers are exhausted at this point,” OEA president Alicia Priest said. 

Herzer says this won’t solve all problems, but it’s a step to ease the transition into what is hopefully a smoother year. 

“That’s the type of individuals that we’re looking for is people that really want to make a difference in kids’ lives,” he said. 

Starting salaries for OKCPS teachers are around $41,000. 

Right now, the district is also offering their Special Education Teacher Boot Camp for those who’d like to become certified.