LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Time is running out for a lot of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma, and that’s creating an even bigger challenge for school districts when it comes to recruiting new educators.
Today marks one year since Oklahoma Teachers walked out of their classrooms. Despite the pay raise, schools are still dealing with some of the same problems, especially finding people interested in the field.
“We had a slow erosion of the teacher talent pool and people deciding, people who were talented decided they didn’t want to be teachers. So hopefully with this teacher pay raise, it’s a good star," said Nate Meraz.
Cache’s superintendent Chad Hance said they’ve tried to come up with new ways to get teachers leaving Oklahoma to stay in Cache for their career.
“if they stay with us for their entire length of their career, then when those teachers retire they are going to draw retirement and that’s something they haven’t put a dime in, the schools picked up the whole thing, so it’s really a double benefit,” said Hance.
Meraz said that it’s been tough to get creative, because creativity is usually expensive.
“The best way to get creative is to incentivize with compensation, but we haven’t been able to do that," said Meraz.
Meraz also said that when pay is competitive it’s easier to attract talent, but this teacher shortage has caused the applicant pool to drop significantly.
“You try and sell your school on the atmosphere, the teaching conditions, the great kids we have and that does matter, we do draw some applicants from that but we really needed that pay raise,” said Meraz.
In Elgin and Cache, they rely heavily on emergency certified teachers, and Hance said he’s worried that now their two year mark is up and a lot of them still haven’t passed the required tests to stay in the classroom.
“We’re not going to be able to re-employ those teachers without that certificate. The times ran out on them so now schools are having to scramble because we have to replace those teachers,” said Hance.
In Elgin, Another big problem for Meraz is the low number of teachers creating problems in the classroom.
“We have to get kids graduated, we have to get them articulated through the system so we’re going to do the best we can, but with that shortage of teachers it simply means a teacher that may have served 120-130 kids a day, are now serving 150-160,” said Meraz.