Polk Co. schools dealing with teacher shortage ahead of the upcoming school year

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – One of Florida’s larger school districts has a big problem with the first day of school right around the corner.

“I have only been here since 2013 but it’s the worst shortage I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here,” says Anita Carson.

Lake Alfred Polytech academy sixth-grade teacher and Polk education association union member Anita Carson is concerned about the 160+ schools and 106,000 students in the county.

“We have about 150 classroom teacher openings in Polk County and teachers come back to school on Tuesday and students come back a week after that. That’s about 150 classrooms where students will not be receiving education day one. They will have a substitute teacher,” says Carson.

Carson says that the shortages is a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, teachers not getting paid enough and teachers dealing with more pressure and stress these days.

Polk County school reps sent 8 On Your Side, a statement which reads in part:

“They’ve been steadily recruiting teachers throughout the summer. Like all school districts they are facing various challenges involved with the national teacher shortage but they are doing everything they can to recruit and retain qualified educators.

Carson disagrees with that.

“I don’t think that we do as much as we could to retain, I think they do as much as they can to recruit,” Carson adds. “Moms and dad should get involved and pay attention to what’s going on with the legislature because a lot of this is chronic underfunding that’s been going on for 20+ years,” says Carson.

For those interested in applying can visit the Polk County School’s website.

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