Oklahoma City looks for teachers beyond state borders

Oklahoma City Public Schools recruiters are touring the Midwest this spring in search of teachers. The program is designed to combat a shortage of graduates in Oklahoma.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: March 23, 2013
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In Oklahoma City, the top salary step for teachers with bachelor's degrees is $48,075, which is paid for 19 years or more of experience.

District switches approach to recruiting

Oklahoma City also is adding classrooms.

The district expanded its prekindergarten program, adding 30 pre-K classrooms a year. Special-education teachers are in particular demand as the number of graduates in the specialty has dwindled.

Demand for teachers outpaces the supply statewide, Springer said.

“That trend will continue,” the superintendent said. “That's why we're doing everything we can to counteract that shortage.”

This year, principals have started using Skype, an online video conferencing program, to interview teachers from across the country and around the world. Administrators signed contracts with interviewees on the spot at the teacher job fair.

The tour of the Midwest is another initiative, said Chuck Tompkins, executive director of human capital for the district.

The first trip, which starts Saturday, is to northern Iowa and Nebraska. Next month, officials will go to Colorado and then on to Cincinnati to recruit students from Ohio and Kentucky.

Right now, about 2 percent of teaching jobs are open in the district.

The goal is to come back from the tour with nearly all vacancies filled, Tompkins said.

One of the draws, Tompkins said, is the low cost of living.

Another plus is the job security in a state that is suffering a teacher drought.