KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Osceola County Public Schools is recruiting teachers from outside the U.S to fill classrooms for the 2022-2023 school year. Board members say the district - like others across the state - ended the year with significantly more openings than in previous summers.
"Right now, we need to actively increase our search for employees. Start here in America, But, if we can't fill those positions - we can't tell our students and parents we don't have a qualified teacher for you," said Julius Melendez, School Board Vice Chairman.
Osceola County Public Schools is now also looking for teachers in Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.
The District approved a new teacher staffing contract at Tuesday’s board meeting. It’ll work with International TeachAlliance to find and hire staff.
According to the staffing placement's website – the program started in 2017.
Certified teachers who speak English are eligible for visas to teach for up to 3 years – with the opportunity for an extension.
Melendez says the teaching certifications are verified through the state department of education.
The teachers will fill openings based on their certifications.
There’s no set number for how many could come – but the district needs a lot of people.
Over 400 instructional jobs are posted under the "Jobs" tab on the district website.
Melendez says there are roughly 140 active teacher listings that new hires could fill.
"Some people go, ‘Well, this is unacceptable.' Great become a teacher. We want you. We’ve been begging for it. That's the only reason we got to this level because locally we couldn't recruit, or we couldn't recruit fast enough," said Melendez.
The district says it's used international staffing agencies before, but this company was selected because of the region it covers.
"We have a high Latin American population. Having teachers from the region would make more sense. Not just teach, but connect and engage," said Melendez.
Osceola County Public Schools serves more than 60% of students with Latin American heritage.
School Board leaders said the staffing agency is paid based on the number of teachers hired. Incoming teachers are paid based on the district’s pay scale which starts at a little over $47,000 a year.
Melendez says the cost to work with the staffing company breaks even with how much it would have cost the district to search and hire staff.
District leaders say they will have more job fairs over the summer to continue recruitment efforts.