Staffing Woes for Florida Schools
According to ABC Action News in Tampa, Hillsborough County has 500 openings for teachers as of July 1. A total of more than 1,200 teachers are needed in seven Bay area counties before the start of school.
Districts have been using creative methods to try to fill all those jobs. Hillsborough County Schools sent recruiters all the way to Puerto Rico, Pasco County Schools held its annual job fair five months earlier than normal in February, Hernando County Schools produced a YouTube recruitment video and Sarasota County Schools recruited at snow-covered campuses in the dead of winter.
I suspect the issue with recruiting teachers in the Tampa Bay Area will continue as the populations continues to grow. To compound this issue, teacher pay has not kept up with careers requiring comparable training. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, in 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994.
The authors of this study write, "An effective teacher is the most important school-based determinant of education outcomes. It is therefore crucial that school districts recruit and retain high-quality teachers. This is particularly difficult at a time when the supply of teachers is constrained by high turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career—and when demand for teachers is rising due to rigorous national student performance standards and many locales’ mandates to shrink class sizes. In light of these challenges, providing adequate wages and benefits is a crucial tool for attracting and keeping the teachers America’s children need."
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