OKLAHOMA CITY – After state officials announced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, school districts across Oklahoma began taking drastic steps to reduce how much money they spent.
As a result, nearly 1,500 teaching positions were eliminated, popular programs were disbanded and class sizes grew. Also, districts reported eliminating 1,300 support positions since last year.
Now, a new survey from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association says school districts across the state are struggling to fill open positions.
The survey claims that districts are trying to fill more than 500 teaching vacancies as students start heading back to class.
Officials claim that special education, elementary, high school science, high school math and middle school math are the most difficult positions to fill.
District officials told researchers that even if the budget crisis wasn’t a factor, they doubt that they would be able to find certified teachers to fill open positions.
“People who have never trained a day as a teacher are now responsible for teaching elementary school students how to read and do math. We have high school students who can’t take Spanish because their school can’t find a teacher. We are hemorrhaging teachers to Texas, Arkansas and Kansas,” said Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. “This is what it looks like when a state fails its schools and its children.”