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Northeast Oklahoma Superintendents Trying to Fill Teaching Posit - KOAM TV 7

Northeast Oklahoma Superintendents Trying to Fill Teaching Positions:Salary an Issue

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School begins next week in Oklahoma and both Quapaw and Miami are still hunting for teachers. The challenge for superintendents is with salaries and there is an impact on students. 

While 4th and 5th grade teachers decorate bulletin boards at Nichols elementary in Miami their superintendent is still trying to fill jobs.

Superintendent Jeremy Hogan said, "It's very scary. We were down, we had seven as of last week. We've got five of those filled but the remaining two, one of them we definitely will not be able to fill. The other one we're hopeful we can."

That’s a special education post at Nichols which will be filled only if a candidate passes a certification test.

But Hogan can't seem to find a high school Spanish teacher.

In Quapaw it’s a chemistry teacher that’s needed. Both superintendents say they're losing teachers to other states and the private sector where they can make more money.

Quapaw superintendent Randy Darr said, "I think we've struggled for  probably eight years trying to get a teacher pay raise and still  haven’t received one. And we get all kinds of mandates, things are constantly changing." 

Hogan added, "It is a statewide issue. We're forty-ninth in the country in teacher salary.” And he said, “Just because it’s a calling, it shoudln’t be a calling to poverty." 

Miami had fourteen openings at the beginning of the summer and those teachers who stay say the turnover impacts them too.

Science teacher Nicolett Ruppert at Nichols said, "It’s hard to build a community within our building when there’s so many people coming and going to have that cohesiveness to guide these students year after year."

But the void of teachers also impacts students by eliminating class offerings.  In Miami, there will likely be no higher level Spanish classes offered. In Quapaw, the middle and high school principal said teachers are cooperating to cover for the lack of a chemistry teacher but higher levels classes will be cut.

Principal Tamara Bacon said, "When you don’t have a science teacher that cuts out those upper level classes that really begin to prepare kids for college. Not only will we lose some upper level sciences but we're probably gonna lose some upper level math as well."

If Quapaw is forced to make a shuffle of teachers, the replacement teacher will not only teach chemistry but earth science and math.

Bacon added that subject knowledge is challenged, "They may have to kind of refresh or relearn chemistry as they go. Teachers often are certified where their passion is.  And while they enjoy teaching, their passion may be teaching a different subject, so anything you're passionate about, you're probably gonna teach a little better."

      Superintendents say offering the upper level classes online may be possible but they cost extra and a teacher must still monitor students.

     Both say they would need to fill vacancies this week to avoid impacting students.

Anyone interested in the chemistry/science position at Quapaw can contact the superintendent at 918-674-2501.  And if interested in the Spanish teaching position in Miami, call 918-542-8455.

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