Oklahoma educators made national news with walkouts that focused on teacher pay and lack of educational resources. In Texas, the Fort Worth school district saw an opportunity.
The district put up billboards in Norman, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Stillwater on Monday with a message to teachers: "Your Future is in a Fort Worth Classroom — Teacher Starting Salary $52,000."
With that recruitment move, the Fort Worth school district found itself making national news and getting the response it wanted. Two teachers with 15 years of experience and graduate degrees called — one on Monday and one on Tuesday, said Clint Bond, spokesman for Fort Worth schools.
Eight Oklahoma teachers had completed online applications with Fort Worth schools as of Thursday morning. The district's Human Capital Management Page, which lists job openings and has a link for applicants, had 3,689 visits on Monday and Tuesday. On social media, the recruitment effort was generating "shares" and "likes," Bond said.
Now, the district is mulling the idea of holding a job fair in Oklahoma. On May 25, the district launches a similar campaign in Arizona. That campaign includes five billboards for $10,000, Bond said. The Oklahoma billboard campaign cost $20,000 for 10 billboards, Bond said.
Arizona educators also recently participated in walkouts as they called for better teacher pay.
The Fort Worth district has used billboards to attract teachers from other states in the past, including California.
The district hires between 500 to 700 teachers each year, Bond said.
"We are always in the market for certified math, science and bi-lingual educators," Bond said in an email.
The campaign doesn't reflect a teacher shortage, Bond said.
"We do want to make sure we are considering the most qualified candidates available," Bond said. "So this is a way of expanding our candidate pool."
The Fort Worth school district has 5,789 teachers. Last school year, the district had more than 86,000 students.