OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – The school year is almost over, but as it wraps up, districts are seeing dozens of employee resignations pushing their total number of resignations for this school year into the hundreds.
News 4 reached out to several school districts Monday morning.
Those who responded say:
- Edmond has received at least 150 employee resignations as of January 30
- Oklahoma City has received 329 employee resignations as of March 6
- Moore has received 196 employee resignations as of March 20
- El Reno has received three employee resignations as of March 20
- Bethany has received one resignation as of March 20
“We are in a crisis. We are in a workforce crisis and lack personnel, teachers, support professionals, administrators,” said Oklahoma Education Association President, Katherine Bishop.
In the last 36 days, Moore Public Schools (MPS) has received 55 employee resignations. Of that, 33 are teachers.
MPS has had the most resignations in the last month than any other school district who responded to KFOR’s inquiry.
OKCPS comes right after MPS with 44 resignations.
MPS is the fourth-largest school district in Oklahoma, serving 24,655 students and families, with 2,914 employees. Of those numbers, approximately 1,500 are teachers and approximately 1,200 are support staff.
“We must keep these numbers in mind when looking at the overall number of employees we retain, those who retire, or those who move out of the education industry. It is not uncommon for large employers to see movement in employment status among their employees like this, and especially among younger generations of employees,” said MPS Public Information Officer, Anna Aguilar.
Aguilar said just as any other school district in the U.S., Moore has experienced higher rates of both employment and resignation among certified and emergency-certified teaching staff.
Bishop told KFOR hearing about MPS having so many resignations in the last month and throughout the school year is “alarming.”
Although MPS agendas dating back to the Board of Education’s September meeting claim 14 of the 55 most recent resignations are listed as “retiring,” Aguilar said that number is actually 39.
For an educator to be retirement eligible, their age and the number of years they have been in the profession must equate to 80, according to Bishop.
“We have a large pool of educators that are able to retire. And right now, with everything going on there, I’m hearing from educators that they’re just saying, this is my last year,” added Bishop.
According to the MPS Board of Education March 20 online agenda, 20 of the most recent resignations are listed as having “no reason given.”
Bishop said there are a multitude of other factors that play into a school employee’s resignation as well, including competitive pay and respect.
“The narrative that we would hope had kind of tampered down would have happened, but it hasn’t. We should be lifting our profession up and we would expect our elected leaders to be lifting our professionals up as a service that we provide to our students of Oklahoma,” stated Bishop.
Bishop said it’s devastating to see those who work so tirelessly to provide and mentor the next generation walk out.
Bishop said the Oklahoma Education Association is working to close the gap on resignations by working with legislators on incentives.
“We’re also doing a lot of other supports for our professionals. We’re providing trauma informed instruction. We’re trying to make sure that they have the resources they need during these really tiring times,” explained Bishop.
Bishop encourages those considering leaving education altogether to stay.
“We have a legislative body this year that has plans on the table to do great things for our workforce. So stay, stay and be a part of this. We’re going to get there. It takes all of us working together and it’s all going to benefit our students. We just stand ready to work with everybody that stands ready to work, whoever wants to come to the table, that we find solutions because this is about our kids,” said Bishop.
While MPS has seen dozens of resignations rolling in, in the last month, Aguilar said it will not affect the classroom.
“We pivot quickly to ensure classes are managed and students are taught on their regular schedules. Education-industry employees often look at their calendars in terms of semesters, or inside of a school year that begins on July 1. Public school personnel offices typically receive letters of retirement/resignation earlier in the school year, with those employees remaining on-staff, full-time, until the end of the school year,” stated Aguilar.
The MPS Board of Education met Monday at 6 p.m. to review the 55 most recent resignations.
Aguilar said the Board will accept all resignations as a matter of regular business.
News 4 has reached out to Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Education, Ryan Walters for comment.
“While we do not have exact information on resignations from Moore, we will be soon presenting to the public our comprehensive strategy for recruiting and retaining talent in the classrooms. One of Superintendent Walters main agenda items is bringing Oklahoma the talent it deserves.Oklahoma State Department of Education
For instance, we are looking at ways to better incentivize teachers who do an outstanding job and are rated highly among parents and students.
Superintendent Walters has proposed $150 million into a teacher incentive-pay program that would increase qualified teacher salaries by $2,500-10,000 per teacher.