Students across Oklahoma are going back to school this month, but many school districts are still struggling to fill vacant teaching positions.
Over the summer, News 9 contacted several of those school districts to ask about the shortage of educators. Many of them said the same thing.
They pointed toward an overwhelming number of baby boomers who have taught in public schools for 20 or 30 years are ready to retire, and many of them are fed up with new programs that wipe out traditional teaching methods.
However, the most repetitive reason we heard is money. Simply put: the salary for a teacher in Oklahoma isn't competitive. That's why local job fairs for Oklahoma teachers almost always have school districts from out of state. They're able to offer more money and incentives for future teachers.
"I think we will at some point have to see changes at the state level with funding to help with providing more incentives with teacher salaries," said Dr. April Grace of Putnam City Schools.
Dr. Grace says Putnam City schools don't have problem with finding teachers because Putnam City offers more money and other perks.
"We're progressive with a good reputation, and we are always providing professional development to support our staff", said Dr. Grace.
At the beginning of the summer, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi told News 9 the Department of Education would be forming task forces to help explore ways of retaining more teachers in Oklahoma.
A study this year by the National Center for Education Statistics shows teachers in New York earn the most in the nation.
On average they're taking in $72,000 a year.
In Oklahoma, the minimum a new educator can make with a Bachelor's Degree is $31,600. The salary average is $44,343.
To view other minimum salary requirements.