JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As most of the students in Northeast Florida get ready to head back to school there are concerns in school districts over an ongoing teacher shortage.
Every Florida school district in Northeast Florida has vacancies, some more than others. While there are positive signs that some spots are being filled, it’s expected that many students in our area will start the year without a full-time teacher leading the class. It’s a trend happening all across the country being fueled by a long list of factors, including low pay and an ongoing educational culture war.
According to data compiled by the Florida Education Association, there were around 8,000 classroom teacher vacancies in the state as of last month. Here’s a look at some of the teacher vacancies in area districts as of July 24:
- Alachua: 101
- Baker: 30
- Bradford: 13
- Columbia: 15
- Flagler: 30
- Nassau: 38
- Putnam: 28
- Union: 1
And that doesn’t count the hundreds of instructional support staff that are also needed.
But there are some promising signs in Clay County where about 50 positions have been filled in the last week.
“In Clay County, we have 26 openings currently, which is a little bit higher in most normal years but there are about 9,500 openings across the state of Florida so our 26 is a small amount and we are kind of used to dealing with that,” Clay County Schools Superintendent David Broskie told The Morning Show.
Duval County, the largest district in our area, had a total of 389 teacher vacancies and 64 vacancies for instructional support positions as of Aug. 1.
In St. Johns County there were 49 teaching openings as of Monday, the district said. That’s a concern for the county’s teachers union president Michelle Dillon.
“I know that administrators are always are already making plans for who’s going to cover classes, teachers taking on the burden of a classroom that is not staffed with a teacher. So they’re picking up that workload of creating plans, greeting the students. So there is a bit of anxiety that we are not staffed the way we would be in a normal year,” Dillon said.
A handful of local districts head back to school on Wednesday including St. Johns, Clay and Nassau with Duval County starting next Monday.