Orange County Public Schools searches for teachers

About a month after the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, Orange County Public Schools is working to fill 104 teaching positions, according to a district spokesperson.

The district reports that 31 teachers have been hired and “should be in the classroom very soon.”  Eleven of the 104 vacancies are temporary, created by maternity or medical leave. Of the remaining 62 vacancies, 24 were posted were posted on Thursday.

The vacancies are across the board from kindergarten to Grade 12.  District chief of staff Bridget Williams said the 24 newly-posted positions are due to growth in the student population since the beginning of the school year.

“We have schools where we had more [students] than we thought…that actually showed up, which is great for Orange County Public Schools,” she said.

According to Williams, new students enroll throughout the school year triggering the need for more teachers because the state limits the number of students per classroom. 

New enrollments, combined with teacher retirements and three new elementary schools, helped create the district’s teacher shortage, Williams said, adding that instructional coaches and retired OCPS teachers have been helping make sure kids are learning while officials search for new hires.

In all, Orange County Public Schools has 13,800 teaching positions.  The 104 vacancies account for one percent of those positions. 

“We were around the same place this time last year with the numbers,” Williams said. 

Orange County Public Schools is not alone in its struggle to find teachers.  A report published this week by The Learning Policy Institute finds teachers in short supply across the country. 

“I think a big part of it is you’re not seeing as many students majoring in the field as they used to,” Williams said.

The school district will host a job fair for teachers this Saturday at Edgewater High School from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.