Polk County schools dealing with a teacher shortage

Still searching for teachers days before classes

BARTOW, Fla. - Only three days before school starts and Polk County is still looking for teachers.

As of Monday, more than 100 classrooms will be without a certified teacher. Children will not face empty classrooms, instead Polk County says they will be filled with substitutes until a suitable replacement is hired.

So far, the hiring team has brought on 752 teachers for the 2017-18 school years, including 200 or more transfers. Many of those new hires come from out of state.

“We did a lot of heavy recruiting in the Midwestern states,” Teddra Porteous, with the school district said.

Polk Schools tell ABC Action News Florida colleges do not graduate enough education majors to hire.

“Not a lot of people are going into education,” Porteous said.

Pressure of hiring doesn’t only fall on the district, but can fall on teachers who are already working at the school.

“We have a vacancy in our grade,” Robyn Coretello, a new hire and second grade teacher said.

Robyn Cortello chose Polk County Schools because she grew up in the district herself. Cortello says in her experience when there is a teacher shortage, the certified teachers have to make up for it.

“You have to help with lesson plans for exam you have to help support them if they have any behavioral issues in their classroom,” Cortello added.

It may be added pressure the more than 6,000 teachers working in the district, but Coretello says not everyone is fit for the job.

“The kids are the most important thing and that's why we do what we do and I know there are a lot of vacancies out there but it's really important to get into it for the right reasons,” she said.

As an added incentive for new hires, the starting salary for teachers is $40,700. Polk County pays the third highest in the state for new instructors.

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