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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Oklahoma City Public Schools now joins other surrounding districts in hiring Kelly Education, a division of Kelly Services Inc., to provide all substitute teacher services for the district.

District officials say that the rate of pay for substitutes will not change and the district will pay Kelly Education additional money as a contractor to provide substitute teachers for the district.

Two Kelly staff members will office in the administration building and stay in close contact with district staff and the superintendent.

Teachers union supportive

“We are supportive of this,” Oklahoma City AFT President Torrie Shoecraft told Free Press after the meeting. The union is the official bargaining unit for all Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers.

“Right now, our teachers need a lot of help with class coverage. They’re having to cover all day every day,” she continued.

Currently, teachers who are present in any given building may be called upon to take in a whole other class whose teacher is ill and the district simply does not have enough substitutes to cover it for the day.

Shoecraft said that the service has guaranteed a certain “fill percentage rate that exceeds what they’ve been hitting currently with the pool they do have.”

The agreement

Brad Herzer, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Safety & Security, talked to Free Press after the meeting.

He said that Kelly Education would have two employees of theirs who will be in the administration building where close contact with OKCPS administration would be possible.

He said employment issues with substitutes would now be handled by Kelly Education instead of the district. However, the district would still be directly in contact with Kelly about all of the substitutes.

“Ultimately, if there’s an issue at a school site, we’re going to reach out to Kelly,” said Herzer. “We’ll have two people on site, you know. We can go immediately to them and say, ‘Hey, this person is not working out at this site. We don’t want them to be there.’ Or, … ‘Hey, we need some more help at this site.'”

L-R, Board member Mark Man, Board Chair Paula Lewis, and Superintendent Sean McDaniel. Board Secretary Craig Cates is seated in front of the horseshoe. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Kelly will handle all substitute employment responsibilities including workers comp and unemployment.

One advantage of having Kelly handle substitutes, Herzer said, was that they have many more “resources” for finding and employing substitutes than the district had.

OKCPS joins surrounding school districts in contracting with Kelly which could have the advantage of providing a much larger pool to deploy from.

And, Herzer said that he had talked to other school district HR people who had experience with the company.

“They [Kelly] have a proven track record that they do really do a good job. I mean, I’ve spoken to several other HR people in the metro and they all said that they’ve done a really good job for them,” Herzer said.

He said that Norman, Moore, Mustang, Piedmont and several others in the metro are already using

Some board members had concerns. Ruth Veales was concerned that there wasn’t a good comparison made between companies but Herzer tried to assure her that there had been adequate comparisons.

Carrie Jacobs was concerned about the size of the pool that OKCPS was joining wondering if they would actually lose available numbers once the district was within the pool. Herzer said that Kelly was being required to increase those available.

National trend

As is the case nation-wide, OKCPS has experienced much higher demand for substitute teachers (sometimes called “guest teachers”) than in years past because of the extremes of the pandemic.

Although many have chosen retirement or job change, those who continue to soldier on experience periodic exhaustion dealing with the loss of continuity in student learning during the pandemic.

The demands to bring students back up to the level they should be on produces exhaustion and illness in teachers more often now and that requires more substitutes.

Also, districts have found that the pool of those available to be substitutes has shrunk considerably because of fear of infection and other concerns connected with the effects of the pandemic.

Gatewood Elementary

In addition to other items of business, the Board agreed to rename the former Gatewood Elementary. Gatewood students were consolidated into another elementary as a part of the district Strategic Plan before the pandemic.

Efforts are now underway for an independent organization to create a new early childhood education center.

They asked for and got approval from the board Monday night to rename the building “The Sandy L. Garrett Center for Early Childhood Education at Gatewood.”

This is the letter that was sent to the board making the official request:


Last Updated October 4, 2021, 9:16 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor