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American Rescue Plan funds help Central High address teacher shortage

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:07 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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CENTRAL HIGH, Okla. (KSWO) - School districts across the country are receiving money from the American Rescue Plan and one Stephens County district has used those funds to hire teachers.

Like many districts across the state, Central High Public Schools says their biggest need is more teachers. Nearly $400,000 of federal funds allowed them to address that need and even add new positions.

“We’re very fortunate. We’ve filled all of our positions, that was not easy to do,” said Central High Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Dyes.

It’s a problem some other districts haven’t quite been able to tackle yet.

“We started planning early last year, like in February we started putting out recruitment information, putting everything on the website. We had a particularly difficult time filling math positions, but we finally got those filled. Filling a band director position. We just had some turnover. When you have people changing jobs, people retiring,” Dyes said.

Central High’s teaching staff is 32 people, 11 of whom are new hires. Three of those teachers are in brand new positions focusing on reading and being funded by the American Rescue Plan funds.

“We haven’t had a reading teacher, so we hired a reading teacher at the middle school level for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Responding to learning loss and really working to see that our middle school students are reading on grade level before they go to high school. Really, we’re spending the majority of ours on salary and we have until 2023 to get it spent so we will parlay it out over several years in those positions,” Dyes said.

Dyes said those extra positions directly impact the kids by reducing class sizes.

“The research would say smaller classes, more attention from teachers, should have better results. That’s the goal,” Dyes said.

The new positions are funded until 2023. After that, Dyes says the school board will have to figure out a solution to keep the positions funded, though he doesn’t expect it to be a major problem.

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