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School districts turn to other employees to step in as they struggle to hire teachers before school starts

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Posted at 6:06 AM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 09:40:21-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  — With just days left before the start of the new school year, hiring teachers has been a struggle.

“The last two years have been very difficult,” said Addison Davis, Superintendent for Hillsborough County Schools.

Statewide, there are more than 9,000 teacher vacancies. Locally, Hillsborough has the worst shortage. The district has more than 700 openings left to fill, which is almost double what it was last year.

“That’s around 15,000 students that may not have stability,” said Davis.

This problem isn’t unique to Hillsborough County.

“It’s a state issue, it’s a national issue, we’re facing the great resignation,” said Davis.

For instance, in Pasco County, there’s been so much growth in the area recently, which means more students in classrooms. It's intensifying an already worsening teacher shortage.

“Right now across the country, there’s hiring concerns,” said Kevin Hendrick, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools.

ABC Action News reached out to local districts to see how many more positions need to be filled. Almost all of them are worse than the year before.

  • Pasco: 399 teacher vacancies
  • Polk: 257 teacher vacancies
  • Sarasota: 126 teacher vacancies
  • Pinellas: 163 teacher vacancies

“We’re filling our last teaching vacancies, support staff vacancies, so we’re continuing to work on those,” said Hendrick.

What happens if they don’t hire enough teachers in time for day one? Leaders said they’ll have to turn to other employees throughout the district to step in.

“We’re going to do everything we can to leverage district staff to be able to cover classrooms so that we have stability and consistency within our schools every single day,” said Davis.

“Right now, we’re looking at every individual outside of the schools for certification and identifying where they can go for the first 30 days,” he added.

Many of the teachers that the districts do have are working overtime to help out.

“Right now, we have teachers that are covering classes. We’re paying them during their planning period, which they really need to properly plan,” said Davis.

Class sizes may also have to be bigger this year as officials figure out how to work around the shortages.

“We’re taking classrooms, and we’re dividing them up and putting them into other classrooms in the same core content area or same level, which is increasing class size, and that’s a concern for us,” said Davis.

Districts plan to continue hiring throughout the school year until all positions are filled, if possible.

“We’re just working diligently like every school district throughout this nation to be able to win the talent war,” said Davis.