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In Oklahoma: Substitute Teacher Shortage Impacts Instruction

The “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

Seventy-three percent of school districts across the state of Oklahoma report they anticipate a shortage of substitute teachers will impact their capacity to deliver instruction this school year.

“As long as there’s a teacher shortage, there’s going to be a substitute shortage, as well,” said Aaron Espolt, superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools said in a recent interview.

Currently, pay at the largest Oklahoma City-area districts ranges between $85-$125 per day for substitutes with a teaching license and $70-$110 for those who are uncertified. Yet, many substitute teachers say this pay rate is not sustainable, particularly when other hourly jobs in the area offer higher wages. 

Rather than paying more, some school districts face the possibility of cutting their substitute pay. Putnam City and Oklahoma City schools both increased their daily rates for substitutes with federal COVID-19 relief money — funding that will expire next year. It is reported that all of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ (OKCPS) substitute pay comes from pandemic relief dollars. District administrators have not decided what rate their schools will pay next year.