Florida Times-Union | By Emily Bloch | July 5, 2022
The number of teachers willing to enter the classroom in Florida this school year continues to dwindle.
A new survey released by the Florida Education Association shows over 9,500 teaching and staff vacancies statewide. Around this time last year, the same agency reported nearly 5,000 shortages.
Experts say a mix of factors exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced an influx of educators to leave the field. Low pay, testing, stringent schedules and new laws have also been cited as reasons teachers are resigning.
Duval County Public Schools recently published a series of videos featuring current and former educators discussing some of the perils that come with the job. Many cite low pay. The school district says a new property tax referendum — which will be up for voting on in August — could help boost morale because it will provide teachers with supplemental bonuses. Critics of the potential tax increase say the district should find other ways to boost pay.
The exact number of teacher shortages in Duval Schools this coming school year is unclear — for now.
District officials plan to release an updated teacher vacancy figure this week.
“The reason for that timing is that June 30 is the official end of the fiscal year,” district spokesman Tracy Pierce said. “It’s a key date for some who may be planning their separation.”
Last school year, the district reported about 430 teacher vacancies, up nearly 58 percent from roughly 270 vacancies in 2020.
According to the Florida Education Association, this year’s faculty and staff shortages could leave over 450,000 students without full-time, certified teachers. In Jacksonville, shortages last year left teachers scrambling to find substitutes to teach their lesson plans and students feeling cramped in classrooms with barely enough seats.
Anecdotally throughout last school year, some students told the Times-Union about situations where they would be rerouted to a school gymnasium or auditorium if there aren’t enough adults on campus to handle teacher vacancies and absences. In other cases, classes are combined for one teacher to monitor all the students.
This story will be updated when the district provides updated vacancy figures.