EPS superintendent: Teacher shortage not going away

Enid Public Schools Superintendent Darrell Floyd speaks Monday to Enid Rotary Club about ongoing school programs and construction projects. (Mitchell Willetts / Enid News & Eagle)

ENID, Okla. — Enid Public Schools Superintendent Darrell Floyd called the Oklahoma teacher shortage a "very real issue" and one he doesn't see going away for this state.

The statewide teacher shortage was one of several topics — including Enid High School's head football coaching vacancy and ongoing construction projects at sites across the district — Floyd addressed during an Enid Rotary Club meeting Monday.

Hiring teachers is a challenge facing districts everywhere in Oklahoma and, to varying degrees, the entire nation, Floyd said.

According to a 2018 survey by Oklahoma State School Boards Association, more than half of the 276 districts that responded said teacher hiring has worsened since 2017.

Floyd said the issue likely will to continue because not enough college students are pursuing careers in education.

Floyd discussed measures, such as a starting pay at $2,400 above the base state wage for educators and a $2,000 signing bonus for difficult-to-fill positions, that EPS takes in order to stay competitive and attract teachers to Enid schools.

Community support for education is something Floyd said adds to Enid's appeal, and he pointed out the 2010 and 2016 bond issues, worth $99 million and $93 million, respectively.

"That kind of support goes a long way, and it's not something you get everywhere," he said. "It goes a long way to the facilities here ... but it also goes a long way toward the climate, the morale and the education day to day for us."

Floyd touched only briefly on the ongoing search for a new EHS football coach. Steve Hayes resigned from the position in early November after a four-year stint with the Plainsmen.

"We're getting applications rolling in now," Floyd said. "We'll be getting started on that search before too long."

The bulk of Floyd's presentation focused on construction projects and upgrades to EPS  elementary, middle school and high school campuses.

Work on Waller Middle School, as well as Taft and Garfield elementary schools, were showcased via overhead drone footage.

New additions are slated for Adams Elementary School, Floyd said, including eight new classrooms, a new library and media center, door locks, security cameras, electrical upgrades and improved handicap accessibility. 

A digital rendering of EPS' largest ongoing project, the combination gymnasium and performing arts building at EHS, provided a glimpse of what the final product will look like, inside and out.

At the most recent EPS school board meeting, Michael Shuck, director of facility construction, said the project is on track to finish by December 2019.

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Willetts is education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. He can be reached at mwilletts@enidnews.com.

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