Florida teachers union president takes to TikTok to warn of school staffing shortages

Already two months into the school year, many districts continue to deal with a teacher staffing shortage. One educator is taking to TikTok to warn of the issue.

Seminole County Public Schools filled some of its teacher staffing holes. But according to the Florida Education Association, that’s the exception, not the rule. Most other districts are losing staff.

"So let’s continue our conversation about teacher and staff vacancies in Florida leading to empty classrooms like this one behind me," said Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar on TikTok, who’s now using the platform to talk about school staffing shortages. "This year is different," he continued in the TikTok video he posted Sunday.

Spar is sharing some alarming numbers. He says the state had about 5,000 teacher vacancies at the start of the school year. Two months in, the vacancies have grown to 5,100. 

"Those numbers usually reduce by half when we’re two months into the school year, so for us to actually see a slight increase, this is just not normal," Spar told FOX 35 News in an interview.

Volusia County has hired 120 more teachers so far this year over last, but they’ve also had 90 more resignations and leave of absences this year compared to last. 

"I feel like we take two steps forward and one step back with not only recruitment but retention as well," said a human resources employee at a recent Volusia County School Board meeting.

Orange County Public Schools started the year with 111 job openings. Scrolling through the job listings Monday, FOX 35 noticed that number is now up to 131. 

"It’s horrible because the kids they’re coming back after staying a year away and now they’re coming back and they don’t have enough teachers," said parent and grandparent Marilia Neri.

"The children suffer. That’s what’ll happen is the children suffer. What good is that? If you’re going to do that, you might as well just keep them home," said parent Sharon Chiles.

"I know our districts are doing the best they can, but this is a major challenge we have across our state," Spar said.

Spar says COVID is part of the problem, but school staffing in Florida was an issue long before the pandemic and it just keeps getting worse.

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.