Florida faces a growing shortage of teachers and education professionals, with low staff salaries and pandemic problems blamed on vacancies that have increased by more than 67% since August 2020, according to the largest state education union.
The Sunshine State began the new school year in August with nearly 5,000 vacant teaching positions and nearly 4,000 vacancies for educational staff, including bus drivers, teacher assistants, cafeteria workers, and teachers. janitors, Florida Education Association president Andrew Spar said in a video posted Monday.
But instead of vacancies being gradually filled, Spar said the shortage had worsened.
“We are now two months away from the school year and at this point those numbers are usually dropping significantly,” Spar said in the clip posted to TikTok. “However, this year is different.”
Statewide, last week there were vacancies for nearly 5,100 teachers and more than 4,000 education staff, Spar said, citing the union’s latest job tally.
Palm Beach County, the fifth-largest school district in the state, had some of the biggest gaps, with 1,024 vacancies on Aug. 2, according to the union. That number had risen to 253 on Tuesday, according to the county’s recruiting website.
“We are in critical condition here in Florida regarding these vacancies. We must do better. We have to do more, ”said Spar.
The union cited a number of reasons for the lack of hiring, including low wages, stress and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Teacher salaries in Florida are among the lowest in the country, at more than $ 10,000 below the national average, according to the latest annual ranking from the National Education Association, which places Florida 49th in the course of the 2019-2020 school year. A more recent calculation that included the money the state legislature allocated to beginning teachers propelled the state up a notch to 48th place, according to the FEA.
This salary increase for new teachers, led by Governor Ron DeSantis (R), has been criticized as being too little and negligent towards veteran teachers.
Anna Fusco, president of the Broward County Teachers Union, which posted 418 teaching jobs last week, blamed the pay gap on high job turnover in schools.
“We are getting beaten up by the government, parents, students and management,” Fusco told CBS Miami. “And we earn $ 47,500” in salary.
The Florida Department of Education did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the job postings.