OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s a problem that has plagued school districts across the state; funding cuts and lack of pay raises have forced many qualified teachers out of the classroom.
As a result, several school districts are being forced to make some tough decisions when it comes to retaining and recruiting teachers.
McLoud Public Schools announced that the school district will move to a four-day school week this fall in an effort to recruit teachers.
“We looked at the fact that we were not getting very many applicants, and we have approximately 10 teachers on either emergency or alternatively-certified certificates,” McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley said.
Earlier this week, the Edmond Public School Board approved a plan to allow teachers to enroll their children in the district, even if they live outside of the district boundaries.
“We have about 85 to 95 openings right now,” said Randy Decker, chief human resource officer for Edmond Public Schools.
Now, Oklahoma City leaders are welcoming 50 new ‘Teach for America’ teachers to the Sooner State.
“I think you’re coming here at an important time as we are sort of going through something of a passing of the torch, a transition in our city’s history,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said.
The teachers who will be working in Oklahoma City are about to begin their journey with a new mayor and a new superintendent, just a few months after a statewide teacher walkout.
“We did pass a $6,000 raise this year, so the teacher pay issue is not as much of a crisis as it was a year ago. But also we want to offer them sort of hope and a vision,” Mayor Holt said.
“There’s a lot more work to do. It’s very hard, of course. I don’t want our teachers coming in to feel that we’ve lost the fight because we haven’t, we’re still fighting,” Symone Richard, a current ‘Teach For America’ teacher, said.
Symone Richard and Malory Hudson are two of the 85 current ‘Teach For America’ teachers who work in Oklahoma.
“I started when I was 22-years- old and I survived my first year. It’s been an amazing experience, but I’ve also grown quite a bit,” Hudson said.
Officials say that most of the new teachers will be working in Oklahoma City, while a few will head down to Lawton.
City leaders say they are hoping to provide even greater opportunities for educators in the coming months.
“Here at the city level at least, we’re going to be talking over the next few months between the city and the school district and the business community and parents and anybody else who’s interested, about rallying around a new vision for public education in Oklahoma City and these young people here today will certainly be a part of that,” Holt said.