HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — With just days to go before the start of school, Hillsborough County is experiencing a huge teacher shortage.
“Every year it’s been a little worse and this year might be the absolute worst year we’ve seen in Hillsborough County in terms of filling the positions for these students,” said Rob Kriete with the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers association.
Krioete says the numbers change on a daily basis, but right now there are roughly 800 open teaching positions and 600 open support professionals.
He blames the high stress of the job and the low pay.
“We need to make this job attractive enough that we are filling these positions and give these teachers back their conference periods and figure out how to give them the time they need to prepare the lessons, grade the papers, and figure out what they can do every single day to help these students and quite frankly we’re failing at every single level of that,” said Kriete.
The Hillsborough County school district is using 300 administrators to serve as classroom teachers. The administrators normally work in the school district building, but in this case, because they still have their teaching certificates, they are being put back into the classroom.
Christie Gold normally works in H.R. for the district and also helps recruit new teachers.
At the start of this school year, she will be back in a classroom, teaching middle school students.
“Although I won’t be here permanently, I think it’s very important that I’m going to be here to welcome the students and welcome the parents tonight to open house,” said Gold.
She says it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract new teachers to Hillsborough County because of the low pay.
“Having worked with interns, I know that one of the problems we have here in the Bay area and we’ve heard this from our graduating USF students, is they simply can’t afford to live here on a teacher’s salary,” Gold said.
Brittney Barton spent years in Hillsborough County Public Schools and says she’s never experienced a teacher shortage like this. She’s worried how it’ll impact her niece, who’s headed to 12th grade.
In the end, she knows what it all boils down to because she has a friend who teaches in Tampa.
“He’s saying the same thing too. It’s the pay,” Barton said. “For people to work and deal with children they want a higher pay.
Barton says something needs to change, sooner rather than later.
“I feel sad that they had to get the administrator to teach because that’s going to take away from their job,” Barton said.