Help Wanted: Florida hosting job fair to fill thousands of teacher vacancies

The last school bell has sounded in Central Florida for the 2021 – 2022 school year. Districts now have two months to make sure every classroom has a teacher for the next school year. It’s a challenge every summer, but this summer there are significantly more open positions to fill. 

FOX 35 News started digging into the number of openings across the state.

Data collected from the Florida Education Association highlights the mountain of a task ahead. The teachers’ union collects data on teacher and support staff vacancies in August and January to gauge needs. 

In January 2022, the agency released a report titled, "New numbers make clear the severity of staff shortages in our schools."

January survey data indicated there were 4,359 advertised teacher vacancies across the state. A nearly 50% increase from the year before when 2,368 teacher vacancies were recorded. The data noted – the count did not include permanent substitutes filling positions that are no longer being advertised. That means the overall teacher vacancy number could be higher. 

FOX 35 also reached out to local districts for teacher vacancy numbers as of June 2. 

Central Florida teacher shortages:

  • Orange County Public Schools lists over 200 K-12 teacher openings.
  • Seminole County Public Schools lists 92 instructional positions open.
  • Lake County Public Schools lists 128 teacher vacancies.
  • Osceola County Public Schools lists 424 instructional job openings.
  • Brevard County Public Schools lists 235 teacher openings.
  • Flagler County Public Schools lists 51 instructional positions open.

Some of those open positions are harder to fill. The state released its annual report back in February on the "Critical Teacher Shortage Areas for the 2022 – 2023" school year. The report highlights the subject areas where there are not enough certified teachers in place.  The list includes: 

  • English 
  • Exceptional Student Education 
  • General Science 
  • Reading
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • Math 
  • Physical Science 

The state said the above list is consistent with the subject areas of the highest need in previous years. 

One FEA member spoke at that meeting and urged the State Board of Education to take action in light of the report and a growing number of vacancies. 

"Though we identify the critical shortage areas every year, we’ve still not changed the trajectory," said Beam to Board Members during public comment.

Why are Florida teachers quitting?  Where are Florida teachers going?

The National Education Association released survey data back in February that found 55% of responding educators were thinking of leaving the profession earlier than planned. 

That number was up from 37% in August, according to the NEA.

90% of educators surveyed say they’re experiencing burnout.

91% of educators surveyed reported pandemic-related stress. 

That’s one of the main reasons Kaveen Bryan says she resigned from her position as a 5th-grade teacher at an elementary school in Lake County. 

"I lasted all of about two weeks. The anxiety was too much to bear," said Bryan, "First day of preplanning, when I went in – I cried in my car. Didn’t know what to expect. We have great administration, but a lot of things are out of their control." 

Bryan now works for a virtual charter school through Florida Connections Academy where she teaches over 60 students from home. A format she likes a lot more. 

"I just don’t see myself going back to regular brick and motor teaching in the near future," said Bryan." 

While students enrolled in the program have teachers –it doesn’t solve the question of who will be available in public schools by August.

What is Florida doing about the teacher shortages? What are Florida school districts doing about teacher shortages?

The State Department of Education is hosting its annual ‘Great Florida Teach-In’ Recruitment Job Fair in Orlando on June 4th. It’s hosted in conjunction with the Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development, and Retention. 

Registered districts and charter schools will have exhibit booths in the main hall of the Orange County Convention Center where they can meet and interview candidates. 

District leaders arrived Friday evening to start setting up. 

"Flyers with information about our pay, benefits, information about our schools," said Quiana Peterson, Instructional Recruiter, Lake County Schools, "6 school leaders who will interview on site."

Districts say for those who aren't certified, it's willing to help people through the certification process. 

The event starts at 9:30 a.m. and is hosted at the Orange County Convention Center's West Concourse. 

On-site registration is available. 

The job fair comes on the heels of Governor Ron DeSantis signing the state budget. It includes an investment of $800 million dollars to bring the average starting teacher pay in Florida to over $47,000. 

DeSantis’ office says it’s the first time in the state’s history the salary has been that high. 

To read more about The Great Florida Teach-In, visit the Florida Dept. of Education's website