Tulsa Public Schools Still Short 41 Teachers

Monday, November 25th 2013, 7:10 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools is still looking for teachers, three months into the school year. The district is short 41 teachers, though that's down from 96 at the start of the year.

The district is turning to new methods to find teachers. The newest thing is an ad on Craig'slist.com that turned into two new hires.

Almost every school in TPS has a classroom with a long term substitute teaching full time.

At McKinley Elementary, Principal Lynette Dixon started out the year working the phones to fill seven empty slots, which she did, but now a resignation has left her with a sub in one class until she can find a new teacher.

"We do have some support for the students, but we would want a teacher who is here every day, building a relationship with the students," Dixon said.

The people who do the hiring say recruiting is a constant job, because there's a steady flow in an out, especially in between semesters.

8/6/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Schools Struggling To Fill 90 Teaching Jobs

"One: I don't think Oklahoma even graduates enough teachers to fill all the positions across the state," said Ken Calhoun, with TPS. "Of course, we compete with higher salaries outside the state of Oklahoma, which is difficult, especially when we recruit in southern Oklahoma. Because if they're close, they're going to go to Texas because of the pay difference."

Back at McKinley, Bill Lewis is three weeks into a new job teaching special ed - one of the hardest to fill positions - and says it's important to students to have the routine of a regular teacher.

"They need to know what expectations are day in and day out, and in my opinion, if the kids don't have that, it makes the task of learning that much more difficult. They need routine and structure," Lewis said.

Principal Dixon is counting on finding a new teacher before Christmas.

"This is a good time of year to get some new fresh teachers right out of college, who are excited about coming to work for Tulsa Public schools," Dixon said.

The district has 130 student teachers who will graduate during this school year, so they hope to get some new hires from that group, but none of them will be available until after Christmas.