School funding legislation and a teacher pay raise passed last spring have had no immediate impact on hiring trends for area schools.
In 2017, the state saw a record number of emergency certified teachers and an ongoing teacher shortage throughout the state continues to make filling spots a challenge, something schools in southern Oklahoma have learned to work around. In particular, experienced teachers are hard to come by.
Ardmore City Schools hired 45 new teachers for the upcoming school year, roughly 20 of whom are new to the profession. Superintendent Kim Holland said 11 are former Ardmore High School students who’ve come back to teach.
“We’re thrilled to have people coming back to us,” Holland said.
The district is also adding two new teaching positions, one in pre-K and one in kindergarten, in response to increased enrollment.
“As far as we’re concerned, that’s a good problem to have,” Holland said.
Holland said many of the new hires were emergency certified, a trend that’s unlikely to end anytime soon.
“We have some fine people in place and we’re looking forward to a great year,” Holland said.
Dickson Public Schools hired 15 new teachers this year, 13 of whom were filling existing roles and two of whom were hired for new positions at the upper elementary and high school level. Dickson’s school year begins earlier than most districts, but Superintendent Jeff Colclasure said he continued hiring new teachers well into late July.
“The first day back is always interesting but I think it went smoothly,” Colclasure said.
For most schools, the bulk of hiring is done during June and early July, but a small application pool has driven most districts to continue hiring later.
“Right up until the very end, we were filling spots,” Colclasure said. “With the lower number of teachers available in the state, you see everyone start to move that way. There are places that still have positions open, so we feel very fortunate.”
Colclasure said this year’s hiring went relatively well, but the teacher pay raise didn’t seem to have any measurable effect on the process or the number of applicants.
“It’s gotten more and more difficult to find people and it will continue to be that way for the next few years,” Colclasure said.
He also said several of the new teachers were emergency certifications, a few of whom were experienced teachers getting quickly certified in a new subject. Five of the new hires have less than two years of teaching experience.
“The pool of people is pretty thin but I feel like we were able to pull some good people and I’m really pleased with that,” Colclasure said.