Tulsa Public Schools forced to use substitutes as district tries to fill 40 vacant teacher positions

TULSA - Administrators at Tulsa Public Schools say they're is still in desperate need for teachers.

In just the past two weeks, the school system hired 50 teachers, but are looking for 40 more despite school being officially underway as of Thursday.

Lee Elementary's principal Elaine Reusser hired five new teachers this year, including second grade teacher Betty Foschee, who was one of the district's 50 recent hires.

Foschee earned her teaching certificate a year and a half ago and has worked in the educational field for the last 13 years.

"We don't get paid that much. Oklahoma is struggling to find their way to keep teachers in Oklahoma," she said.

TPS Superintendent Keith Ballard said Thursday Oklahoma often loses teachers to neighboring states like Texas and Arkansas because of the state's lack of competitive pay.

"We need to get it corrected and fund education in Oklahoma," he said. "I think we need to pay teachers a decent wage."

Ballard is temporarily filling those 40 open positions with substitutes to avoid overcrowding the classrooms, something Ballard said needs to be remedied soon.

"A substitute is no substitute for a high quality performing teacher, I will say that," he said. "While we have dedicated, competent, caring substitutes, it's not the same as a teacher. We aren't satisfied and are working hard to fill that void."

Ballard said the substitutes are generally retired teachers and people working towards their teaching certification.

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