Billboards aim to recruit teachers from Oklahoma to Texas
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A Texas school district is trying to recruit teachers with a billboard campaign in Oklahoma, where teacher protests about salary and other education issues recently closed schools across the state.
The Fort Worth Independent School District funded the billboards in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. The Norman Transcript reports the billboards were revealed Monday with the message: "Your future is in a Fort Worth classroom — teacher starting salary $52,000."
According to the latest statistics from the National Education Association, the average salary for a teacher starting out in Oklahoma is $31,919. Only Missouri and Montana are lower.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation last month granting teacher pay hikes of about $6,100 and providing tens of millions of new dollars for public schools. But teachers demand more.
Fort Worth Independent School District spokesman Clint Bond said the district is "impressed with the passion and commitment" of Oklahoma's teachers. He said the campaign is a means to tap into a pool of quality teachers and show that Fort Worth has something to offer.
"I don't think there's any doubt in anybody's mind that those teachers are passionate about their students," he said. "If they were thinking about moving to somewhere like Fort Worth, I know they would think long and hard about that.
Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said he's familiar with neighboring states' attempts to draw Oklahoma teachers away.
"We've been dealing with this for many years now," said Migliorino. "When we go to job fairs, the bordering states, not just Texas, have booths there, and they're giving out large signing bonuses and starting salaries that we can't even touch with decades of experience."
He said Oklahoma has a ways to go before it can compete in the market for teachers.
"We have made incredible strides as a state over this last legislative session, but there's much more to do," Migliorino said.