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Broken Arrow working with city employees to help teacher shortage

teacher stress
Posted at 2:32 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 15:32:10-05

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — The Broken Arrow City Council approved a plan Tuesday to allow city employees to help the local school district fill staff positions impacted by the pandemic.

School districts throughout Oklahoma are dealing with COVID-19-related staffing shortages, forcing shifts to distance learning in several cities.

MORE >>> Tracking distance days: Tulsa area schools adjust to COVID spike

Resolution No. 1443 authorizes the city manager to enter into a Mutual Aid Agreement with Broken Arrow Public Schools and allows city employees to participate in the school district’s volunteer staffing plan.

“Finding solutions where needs are and creating ways to help in areas in our city is the right thing to do, and that is what Broken Arrow is all about,” said Mayor Debra Wimpee. “Our partners at BAPS have been determined to do what they can to continue keeping the doors open for students. But the staff shortages became too much to overcome this past week. On behalf of the City Council, we are honored to pass this Resolution and ready to help the district with its needs.”

The city says that through state statute Title 11, Section 22-159, Municipal Support of Local Public Schools, a city may support a public school system within its boundaries.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced an executive order Tuesday forming a similar plan for state agencies and their employees.

MORE >>> Oklahoma Gov. Stitt allows state agencies to let employees substitute teach

“You cannot underestimate the importance of the relationship between a city and its school district, and this Resolution punctuates the tie that binds our two organizations here in BA,” said City Manager Michael Spurgeon. “The City Council and I have heard how critical the in-person environment is for student success, so, if we can offer our employees to substitute teach, drive a bus, manage a cash register in the cafeteria, whatever the district needs, without comprising the high-quality customer services we provide to our citizens, we’re going to do it. My hope is that folks in our community also recognize the district’s needs and feel compelled to serve and lend a helping hand.”

“Seeing our city come together in the face of unprecedented circumstances is a true testament to how much Broken Arrow Public Schools values our amazing citizens,” said Chuck Perry, superintendent of schools. “We get the privilege of educating your wonderful kids each day, and it’s so rewarding to know our parents and community members want to help us continue vital in-person learning with the gift of selfless sacrifice.”

According to the school district on Jan. 13, more than 440 employees were absent, and only 42 of the 97 substitute teaching roles were filled. The limitation in available manpower necessitated the transition of all schools to remote learning the following day and continuing through Jan. 21.

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