Tampa Bay school districts continue to struggle with teacher shortages

TAMPA, Fla. — The state continues to struggle with a severe teacher shortage.

At the start of the school year, ABC Action News spoke with school districts in Tampa Bay about their open positions.

Districts like Pinellas County saw more teacher openings than usual.

“Our talent acquisition team has a wide reach. They’re looking at different ways to get people to join us,” said Paula Texel of Pinellas County Schools Human Resources Services.

At last check, Pinellas County has about 136 teaching vacancies, Polk County has about 200 vacancies, and Hillsborough has 534, the most of any local district.

It’s a recurring issue that ABC Action News spoke to Superintendent Addison Davis over the summer.

“That’s a huge number of students who don’t or may not have a highly qualified teacher in front of them every day,” said Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.

Hillsborough is one of many districts working overtime to try to fill as many positions as possible.

Now, organizations like Kelly Education are tasked with providing more substitute teachers to school districts in Tampa Bay as leaders prepare for the return of students in the new year.

“There are far more vacancies for teachers than we’ve ever seen before,” said Cheryl Courier, vice president of Southeast practice for Kelly Education.

This means that they must find long-term replacements who teach until the positions are filled.

The shortage is so severe that Kelly Education is also helping school districts find potential teacher candidates.

“Right off the bat, we talk to substitute teachers about, ‘What if this could be your next career?’,” Courier said.

According to the Florida Education Association, the latest figures for August show there were 10,771 vacancies for teachers and support staff in Florida.

It’s a statewide problem that many fear won’t get better anytime soon.

“I think we’re going through a very difficult time where as a community we have to pay attention to our teachers because it’s only going to get worse if we don’t,” Courier said.

Kelly Education is looking for more replacements.

“It’s an important job to educate the next generation, whether you’re a teacher or a substitute teacher,” Courier added. “There’s a stable salary. It’s a great way to support your community, and there are flexible work options.

Anyone interested should visit their website, mykelly.com, or call 813-518-5999 and select option 2.

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