TPS Seeks To Fill 47 Teaching Jobs, One Month After Start Of Classes

Thursday, September 13th 2012, 6:43 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools is short of teachers now, just months after they were short on money to pay them.

They have 47 open positions at schools, which started classes four weeks ago.

The shortage has TPS scrambling to find candidates and get them hired, but the problem is finding applicants qualified for the subject matter.

In the upper grades, it's often math and science jobs going unfilled.

There's a full time, French speaking teacher in the French class at Carver Middle School.

She's able to teach everything from introductory to advanced classes.

Next door, the students in Spanish can only do the basics - mostly what they can learn with a textbook - because there is no Spanish teacher. The school hasn't been able to hire one.

"Every day is a day when they're falling behind on that goal and it affects their high school career," said seventh grade teacher Angela Loerging.

8/24/2012 Related Story: Enrollment Down At TPS, Teachers Still Outnumbered

All over the district, classes are being taught by long term substitutes, while the district tries to hire teachers qualified in the subject matter.

They try to find subs who know the material, but that's not always possible.

"At this point, we haven't found one who can speak Spanish," said Principal Melissa Woolridge.

Woolridge said any specialty subject like language is hard to fill, but math and science teachers are hard to find as well.

"We are still down in the number of teaching positions that we have," said Superintendent Keith Ballard.

Superintendent Ballard said the combination of budget cuts and a wave of retirements left the district with fewer positions - and not enough applicants to even fill those.

"And we just ended up with not having hired enough," Ballard said.

Loerging says the other teachers try to help substitutes develop daily plans to teach as much as they can, but the students can't get what they would with a full-time teacher.

"They're ready and eager to start doing high school coursework that we're just not able to offer them, right now," Loerging said.

TPS hired a couple of teachers this week, but as of noon Thursday, was still 47 short.

Click here for a list of open positions at each school.