HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County is just one of many school districts experiencing teacher and school employee shortages.
“We are deficient of at least 1,000 employees in our district every single day that are trying to meet the needs of our students and so that puts a lot of extra work on the adults that are already in the building,” said Rob Kriete, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association President.
That’s one of the reasons why the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association works with the school district every year to finalize contracts for teachers and educational support staff
On Tuesday the school board will discuss financial incentives for educational support professionals.
“What that is would be the equivalent of a year’s step but giving to them in a non-recurring supplement. So they get the same exact money for this school year, for 21-22 that they would’ve gotten in terms of a step raise but it is a one-time supplement,” said Kriete.
The one-time payment ranges from $600-$1,250, depending on the position.
The board will also consider approving one-time payments for people working at transformation schools, which are the lowest-performing schools in the district.
- instructional personnel: $5,000
- paraprofessionals: $750
- principals: $7,500
- assistant principals: $5,000
“We want to always make sure that they are staffed first and foremost. There’s an opportunity to make a few thousand dollars extra to actually work there with our kids who need them the most quite frankly,” said Kriete.
The district has identified financial incentives as a mechanism to keep current employees and recruit new ones.
“It’s urgent and vital that we do this and quite frankly we need to do a lot more,” said Kriete.
Teacher turnover is high across the country and advocates say raising teacher salaries is just one step in retaining employees.
“We have to make sure that teachers have the ability to do what they think is best for their students. We call that teacher autonomy,” said Kriete.
“Teachers and our support professionals we want to have the ability to assess the needs of the kids and then have the tools that they need to meet those needs,” he added.
As shortages continue nationwide, HCTA said it’ll continue to push for changes.
“We’re going to keep going back to our school board and talking about the needs of our schools with our teachers and support professionals,” said Kriete.
Tuesday's meeting starts at 4 p.m.