Polk County needs to fill 135 teacher positions before school starts

BARTOW, Fla. — Polk County School’s human resource office has been swamped with hiring this summer.

Managers tell ABC Action News they interviewed more than 650 school guardians — that's on top of hiring over 1,500 positions across the county.

But that’s not why 135 instruction positions still remain open in the district.

“This year we have just about 105,000 students and that’s the largest Polk County Schools have ever been,” said Teddra Porteous with Polk County Schools. He added that the county continues to grow exponentially each year.

The growth, mainly on the eastern side of the county, forces the district to hire an additional 100 teachers for the 2018-2019 school year. That doesn’t include the 100+ vacancies due to teachers that have decided to retire in the last few months. 

Also, Polk County Schools says it’s a tough job to do and takes a certain amount of dedication to commit to.

“There are a lot of hours put into it. It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Porteous said.

HR has a few different ideas going in hopes of solving the problem on time. Hiring managers say they’re recruiting local college adjunct professors to bridge the gap. They are also beginning their fall job fairs to help hire on long-term subs.

And as a new innovative way of finding qualified teachers, Polk County says they’ve created a new position called a ‘teacher engagement leader' to help bring potential teachers into the fold.

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