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Bills to recruit and retain teachers hope to bring solutions to Florida's massive teacher shortage

Posted at 7:49 PM, Mar 04, 2019

TAMPA — Tackling the state’s massive teacher shortage and keeping students safe are some big topics to be discussed during Florida's legislative session that starts on Tuesday.

A big issue in the state is how to address the shortage of 2,000 teachers, the worst the state has ever seen this time of year.

A lot of that may have to do with the difficulty of passing the Florida Teacher Certification Exam. One bill aims to make the test easier for teachers to pass.

A bill aiming to recruit teachers is House Bill 1331, creating a classroom teacher student loan forgiveness program. Another bill aims to give teachers better bonuses.

Just last month, Hillsborough County approved to give Title One school teachers big raises to help fill their openings. But the school district also voted unanimously against a Senate bill that would arm teachers and give districts the right to arm teachers who qualify.

"After talking to many teachers and many students about it, it doesn’t make sense necessarily to have guns in schools. Teachers don’t necessarily feel any safer and neither do students," said Melissa Snively of the Hillsborough County school board.

The 10 largest school districts in Florida including Hillsborough County have already said they will opt out if the bill is passed.