TULSA, Okla. — Finding educators continues to be an uphill battle for school districts in and around Tulsa. The problem is now at a breaking point as schools start the second year of teaching through the pandemic.
"This is an issue that we’ve also had for a number of years, but it’s also been very much exacerbated by the pandemic," Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said.
Gist ended Tuesday night's TPS Board meeting opening up about the district's recent struggle hiring substitute teachers.
Daniel Webster Middle School and high school were the latest to close their doors, this week, due to teacher absences.
"Our school leaders are trying to make it work and they’re doing everything they can," Gist said. "It’s hard for me to try to convey what that scramble looks like.”
Finding capable backups to come in and make up for the teachers that cannot make it to school is in the thick of that panic, but Gist said there are not many to answer the call. She said the district is operating with just 40 percent of its substitute staff.
"We would love if you could become a substitute teacher," Gist said at the TPS Board meeting.
"We definitely have positions available for anyone in our community who’s willing out into these school sites and help us out," Mark Ruby, Jenks Public Schools Director of Personnel said.
Ruby said TPS is not the only Green Country school district searching far and wide for subs.
“We have a significant amount that we would take on if we could, if we had the applicants out there," he said.
Ruby said COVID cut into the Trojans' substitute pool and support staff. Jenks offers incentives higher pay for certified teachers and long term fill-ins like other districts in the area.
Jenks brought in 30 subs for orientation this week, but with the threat of the pandemic putting teachers out for days or weeks at a time, Ruby said it is not enough.
“Anybody in our community that likes working with kids, wants to make a difference and help us out, help our district out, we’d be more than happy to have them," he said.
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