Tulsa Public Schools will be back in session on August 22nd, but many are wondering how many teaching positions still need to be filled.
The numbers are looking promising, compared to this time last year. TPS says teacher retention is up, emergency certifications are down, and there are fewer vacancies.
“The reality is that we have to be more creative in how we find teachers, how we train teachers, and how we retain teachers in the district," says Coy Nesbitt Director of School Talent Services.
Currently, Tulsa Public Schools is looking to fill 91 teacher vacancies. A decent drop from 136 openings just last week.
“We're in constant search mode,” says Nesbitt.
The district has had 19 recruiting events since February a mix of job fairs, meet and greets, and info sessions.
"One of the things that I've noticed this year is that we've had several people, as we've been interviewing, say 'hey, I once had an interest in teaching, and now I feel like it's the right time,” says Nesbitt
That right time comes after the historic teacher walkout that put Education in Oklahoma in the national spotlight
"Especially given the fact that there is definitely excitement around increased pay for teachers. I think that more people can actually see themselves building a career as a teacher in Oklahoma."
630 teachers left the Tulsa Public Schools district after the 16-17 school year. This summer TPS had 480 teacher positions to fill. The number of emergency certifications is also down from 200 this time last summer to 90. With five weeks left district leaders are counting on social media posts and even ads on buses to fill the empty classrooms in time.
"We're trying to take an all-out approach to not leave any stone unturned so that we can attract the best talent that Tulsa has," says Nesbitt.
TPS says it changed the times and locations for a lot of the recruiting events this summer to attract more candidates. The district is also touting that retention for the upcoming school year is also up from 70 percent to 83 percent but that's only for teachers with less than 4 years of experience.