Two elementary schools in the Oklahoma City district are facing critical teacher shortages as the start of school draws near, and that has district leaders reconsidering practices for recruiting, hiring and retaining teachers.
As of Monday, Thelma Parks Elementary was 53 percent staffed and Upper Greystone Elementary was 62 percent staffed. Three other schools are at 75 percent of staffing for teachers, according to district officials.
Rod McKinley, the district’s chief of human resources, attributed the shortages — 11 schools are 80 percent staffed — to prinicpals he said are waiting too long to fill vacancies.
“Everybody agrees that the most important thing is to have qualified, inspired principals at each location ... to have a highly qualified teacher in every single classroom regardless of location, regardless of school,” McKinley told school board members Monday night. “That is our goal, and that is what we’re going to work on.”
Between now and the start of school Aug. 4, the district is reaching out to retirees and recent college graduates to fill 148 vacancies in the district, including 35 special education teachers.
“We need teachers, and we need them now,” said McKinley, who will take over as chief operating officer next month. “It’s time to look at the whole process.”
To counter the shortages, district leaders have outlined a plan to upgrade district hiring practices by offering higher salaries and compensation packages along with signing and relocation bonuses.
“I know that all hands are on deck right now to make sure we not only have teachers, but great teachers,” Superintendent Rob Neu said.
McKinley said recruiting highly qualified teachers will become a full-time process. Going forward, principals will have until May 15 to interview and recommend teachers for placement. After that, the district’s human resources department — which recruits candidates — will fill remaining spots.
“We need to be proactive,” McKinley said. “We’ve just got to change the process we have right now, because we can see that it’s just not working.”
We need to be proactive. We’ve just got to change the process we have right now, because we can see that it’s just not working.”
Oklahoma City district’s chief of human resources