OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma school districts are still facing a major classroom crisis: there aren’t enough substitutes or bus drivers to keep up with the growing demand for students.
Deer Creek Public Schools tells us their bus driver shortage has already gotten to the point where they have had to cancel an athletic event.
And they’re hoping it won’t come to the worst-case scenario— canceling school.
“One of the problems that we face is that when we look at the funding that goes toward transportation from the state, that funding formula hasn’t been updated since the 80s,” said Dr. Jason Perez, Deer Creek Schools Superintendent.
School districts across the state struggling to fill empty spots– creating a classroom crisis.
Just last week, Bixby Public Schools had to shut down the entire district for a day– due to a shortage of bus drivers.
“We’ve seen that in some districts as well, where they’ve had to shut down school because they just didn’t have enough bus drivers. That’s really unfortunate when you do that because now we are directly impacting student learning as well as impacting families because you have families that won’t be able to work that day because they need to stay home, provide child care,” Perez said.
Currently, Deer Creek Schools are at a 55% fill rate. Meaning 55% of staff absences can’t be filled.
Mid-Del Schools says they’re at about a 68% fill rate. Which is an improvement from months back, but still left with many spots to fill.
Edmond– the same story.
But it’s not just bus drivers. It’s substitutes as well.
Teachers are missing out on planning periods and classrooms filled to the brink with additional students when there aren’t enough subs.
“When we don’t have enough substitutes, we look at the elementary for example. We’re taking a classroom and more than likely splitting those kids up amongst the other teachers in that grade level,” Perez said. “When we look at our middle and high schools, teachers lose their plan time because they have to cover it. It’s not a thing where it really becomes an option because we have to have supervision of students.”
Perez says another problem they’re facing is teachers feeling guilty if they have to miss work, whether it be due to an emergency or illness.
“They feel like they’re letting down their team if they’re gonna be off because they know that there’s not gonna be coverage there for them,” Perez said.
Many schools are still giving incentives to fill positions. They say the beauty of it is you can create your own schedule and pick where you may want to sub. You’d also be off work the same days as your kids. Like snow days or major holidays.
If you want to be a bus driver, Deer Creek will pay for your cdl license and training.