OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma state senator filed a pair of bills designed to fill the state’s growing teacher shortage.

Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, filed Senate Bill 1119 and Senate Bill 1144.

SB 1119 removes the 270-hour limitation adjunct teachers are allowed to teach in a classroom per semester.

Adjunct teachers have distinguished qualifications in the field they teach, and, because of their professional background, are not required to meet standard certification requirements, according to a State Senate news release.

Oklahoma schools have seen an increase in adjunct teachers, from around 175 in 2015-2016 to over 400 in 2021, according to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

“The State Board of Education has also approved more than 3,600 emergency certifications this school year – further evidence of the ongoing teacher shortage crisis,” the news release states.

SB 1144 allows substitute teachers who have a valid, lapsed or expired certificate or a Bachelor’s degree to work as many days as needed.

“Increasing pay and other recent changes haven’t helped end the teacher shortage problem, so we need to look at what assets we already have available, like adjunct and substitute teachers, and how we can better utilize them,” Garvin said. “Given that many districts are still struggling to fill essential teaching positions, being able to rely on local professionals to share their expertise in the classroom as well as former teachers or individuals with degrees to substitute has been a lifesaver. My bills will ensure these professionals can work as many hours as they’re needed and willing to.”

Substitute teachers who have a lapsed or expired certificate are currently prohibited from working more than 145 days during a school year. Substitutes who do not have a certificate or Bachelor’s degree can only work up to 135 days. However, teachers who have a valid teaching certificate can work an unlimited number of days in classrooms.

SB 1144 prohibits teachers who do not have a valid, lapsed or expired certificate Bachelor’s degree from teaching the same course for more than 10 consecutive days unless the State Board of Education grants a waiver to the school district.

“The measure also directs school district board of education policies regarding substitute teachers to include the required qualifications and their pay rate,” the news release states.

Both bills will be considered when the legislative session starts in February.