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Miami, OK Schools are Feeling the Effects of Statewide Teacher Shortage

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MIAMI, OKLAHOMA -

Across the state of Oklahoma schools are struggling to recruit enough teachers to fill growing vacancies.

"I think it's getting more and more, we're not getting the applicants that we used to. Occasionally in years past you would maybe get twelve or fifteen applicants for a position, now we're down to maybe three or four, sometimes no applicants,” says Miami High School Principal Lisa Munson.

In Miami, the high school has been granted four emergency teaching certificates by the Oklahoma Board of Education, among almost 700 already granted state wide, that's about 200 more than were issued all of last year.

The certificates allow teachers who may have not finished their degree or completed state teacher training to start in the classroom right away.

"It makes it harder, and harder. It makes it much more difficult to find quality teacher applicants and in many cases applicants of any kind, you know, especially in those areas of high need, like math, science, special education, foreign languages,” says Miami Schools Superintendent Loretta Robinson.

The district pays starting teachers a couple of thousand dollars above the statewide minimum but for some that's not enough motivation to stay in Oklahoma.

"I’ve gone to teacher career fairs and sometimes they don't even come to the Oklahoma tables, because they know the Kansas schools or the Missouri or Arkansas schools pay more,” says Munson.

As a result, counseling has been hit with staff cuts, class sizes in kindergarten and first grade have been increased, and the music, art, and P.E. program has been restructured to support less manpower.

"We feel fortunate that we have had only four on emergency. But there have been positions we have eliminated because of not being able to applicants, quality applicants,” says Robinson.

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