Florida facing severe staffing shortage at school districts across the state

Coronavirus

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida school districts across the state are facing critical staffing shortages. The Florida Education Association said there were nearly 9,000 openings back in August and that the number continues to grow.

“Some of our teachers are picking up classes during their planning period or going over and beyond the number of students they teach every day,” said Addison Davis, Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools.

District leaders said they’re racing to find solutions to treat the crippling issue.

“Properly incentivizing our teachers. The starting pay in Hillsborough County is 46-9 so to be able to make sure it’s attractive,” said Davis. “Working relentlessly to be able to market but throughout the state, nationally.”

Hillsborough County has 485 instruction vacancies according to FEA. Superintendent Davis said the uptick in students coming back to district schools this year is forcing them to hire more.

“But in the same token, we do have hard to fill positions such as upper-level math, upper-level sciences and at the same token being able to find teachers that are certified in special education.”

The FEA also reported Polk County has 198, Pasco County has 133 and Pinellas County with 121 vacancies.

“Covid may be accelerating something things, but the reality of it is it’s the stress and the anxiety and quite honestly the lack of respect that teachers and staff have,” said Andrew Spar, president of FEA.

He said it’s critical to dive deeper into all of these issues, and it takes district leaders but also legislators.

“We’ve got to address the support for the people who work in our schools, but we also have to address the pay, pay fairness, equity around pay for teachers and support staff that are in our public schools,” Spar said.

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