Oklahoma City Public Schools is offering more money to substitute teachers in an effort to address the substitute teacher shortage.
“The fill rate, the amount of vacancies and how many get filled, we normally have in a non-COVID year would average 70-75% we have been under 50% all year,” said Brad Herzer, the assistant superintendent of human resources, safety and security.
The district said teachers are having to work through their lunch breaks and planning periods. It's gotten to a point where so many of them have no choice but to take more work home.
“Teachers are having to cover multiple times a week. We try to take some measures to show our appreciation for that. Just last week we increased our coverage pay for when a teacher covers a class,” he said.
Herzer said the lack of staffing disrupts classrooms, leading to learning loss.
“You have starts and stops, you have a consistent teacher there and then they are out for a day or two and then it’s almost like starting over. It does cause issues in the classroom for students,” he said.
The district is offering a $40 stipend for substitutes.
“We don’t have enough guest teachers in the pipeline and then we also have more vacancies at this time so it’s kind of a double edge sword,” said Herzer.
Substitutes with a high school diploma will receive $95 a day. The daily price goes up to $105 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher and $120 for certified teachers.
“If we can encourage our community to help out, we would greatly appreciate that,” he said.
The district said it is also taking steps to keep substitutes safe with a mask requirement and air filtration system.