Oklahoma superintendents doubtful new executive order will help with staffing shortage

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 6:15 PM CST
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed an executive order on Tuesday to help out the teacher shortage that has been causing schools around the state to close down and go virtual.

Next week Mannsville schools will be distance learning, which superintendent Brandi Price said she didn’t want to, but with half her staff out sick, it was her only choice.

”We just kind of don’t have that option in a rural district to have subs available,” Price said. “So we cover within, we do our best to try and cover and keep kids in classes as long as possible.”

That’s where Stitt’s executive order comes in. Hoping to keep students learning in person through the staffing shortage, order 2022-01 states state employees can get their same pay and benefits if they substitute teach in the state.

“Well it sounds fabulous,” Ardmore City Schools acting superintendent Jill Day said. “It sounds very generous and very appealing. But there are a lot of things we have to consider- for instance background checks.”

Day said she’s felt the shortage too, and her principals have gotten creative to fill the roles of staff out sick.

“I’ve had principals teaching class, I’ve had principals serving food, I’ve had principals vacuuming classrooms,” Day said.

Day said if the state could also pay for the background checks, it might work. But now-

“The schools cannot afford to do that for people that may substitute for one day, two days.”

Price said nobody wants to be distance learning, but at least the kids are still being taught by certified professional educators.

“The state employee mandate is basically just to have someone coming in and sitting with kids,” Price said. “They don’t have the background or knowledge to know what students are doing or to have that pedagogy to know how to implement the instruction in the classroom.”

She said there’s another solution.

“We’ve got to get better sub pay, higher teacher pay, something to try to help remediate the situation so that we can get people in the buildings to help cover whenever we do have situations like this,” Price said.

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