School Districts Facing Teacher Shortages

Mike Seals - June 17, 2021 10:17 am


Ponca City Public Schools, like countless other schools across Oklahoma, is facing a teaching shortage heading into the 2021-2022 school year.

Superintendent Shelley Arrott addressed the issue to the board of education this week. Teacher retirement benefits are based on the three highest salary years. This year teachers completed the third year of higher salaries since the historic teacher pay raise that started during the 2018-2019 school year.

“Statewide, 1,400 more teachers retired in May 2021 than in May 2020. The number rose from 1,300 retirees to 2,700 retirees,” said Arrott.

“Oklahoma District leaders knew there would be more retirees at the end of this school year because those close to retirement in 2018-2019 stayed in the profession for an additional three years to boost retirement benefits for the rest of their lives,” said Arrott. “The additional retirees, the stress from the global pandemic and the teacher shortage in Oklahoma has led to the perfect storm. There are literally hundreds of unfilled positions statewide, and all schools are vying for candidates.”

To help address the shortage, the Oklahoma State Department of Education partnered with the national nonprofit TEACH to launch a PSA to celebrate current teachers and inspire others to become teachers. “The Future Depends on Teachers” was developed to elevate the teaching profession and address a teacher shortage that has worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must spotlight our educators and provide more opportunities for talented individuals to join the noblest profession,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister.

At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, overall enrollment across Oklahoma schools was two percent higher than in 2012-13. However, the pandemic dealt a blow to that progress.

One decade ago, there were 32 emergency teacher certifications. During the 2019-20 school year that number hit over 3,000. Last year it was at almost 2,800.

There have been 57 district certified retirements or resignations this year in Ponca City, which included five administrative retirements or resignations. Many of the administrative changes resulted in current staff moving into a site administrative position or to a district administrative position. These changes resulted in nine administrative changes.

The district has had 56 new hires so far this summer and added 9.5 positions with CARES funding. “At this point, PCPS still has seven teaching positions to fill, which includes three elementary teachers, two secondary science teachers, one athletic trainer and one middle school reading teacher,” said Arrott.

If anyone is interested in making a positive influence on amazing students, joining a great team, having a rewarding career with great benefits and has at least a bachelor’s degree is eligible for emergency certification. Please contact Jennifer Dye, Executive Director of Human Resources, at 580-767-8000.




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