Florida teacher shortage continues with school start just weeks away

Many students in Central Florida are heading back to the classroom in about two weeks and districts are still working to find hundreds of teachers. 

"This summer, it's been pretty much job fair after job fair after job fair," said Russell Bruhn of Brevard County Public Schools. 

Brevard County Public Schools is hosting six teacher job fairs this week alone to try and fill the remaining vacancies. 

Ongoing recruitment efforts have helped chip away at vacancy totals over the summer. 

FOX 35 News has tracked those numbers: 

  • Brevard County Public Schools reported 235 teacher openings in June 2022. It's down to 179 classroom teacher openings.
  • Seminole County Public Schools reported 58 kindergarten to 12th-grade teacher vacancies in June. It's down to 33 openings. 
  • Lake County Public Schools was at 128 in June. It's down to 82 openings. 
  • Osceola County Public Schools reported upwards of 500 teacher vacancies in June. It's down to 271 openings. 
  • Orange County Public Schools directed us to its website to get an update on its teacher vacancies. Based on job listings posted today - it still has roughly 167 openings. 

Some districts like Osceola County Public Schools have gotten creative to fill vacancies. Over the summer, the board approved a contract to work with an international placement agency to bring in teachers from Mexico, South America, or the Caribbean. A total of 24 teachers were hired through that program.

But with school in roughly two weeks and still very high vacancy numbers - the stress level of finding certified teachers is even higher. 

"Staffing issues everywhere," said Julius Melendez, Osceola County School Board Vice Chairman, "Nerve-wracking part is because you're competing with other counties. So, when UCF graduates their teaching class for 2022 - everyone is going after them." 

Districts have already started making plans if not enough full-time teachers are hired. 

Brevard County Public Schools for example says it's already pooling substitutes. 

"Reaching out to them to get them primed for long-term, multiple-day sub assignments," said Bruhn. 

Osceola County Public Schools says its considering options like paying teachers extra if they're willing to teach during their break period or upping class size. 

"Maybe a sub is assigned to a teacher and that way we can ‘plus-up’ classroom size and there are physically two teachers in the classroom," said Melendez. 

Osceola County Public Schools says it would have to work with the union to discuss possible payment options for teachers who work through their break periods. 

The upcoming hiring fairs for Brevard County Public Schools are: 

  • July 27th: Educational Services Facility in Viera from 3 pm - 7 pm 
  • July 28th: Clearlake Education Center in Cocoa from 3 pm - 7 pm 
  • July 28th: Bayside High School in Palm Bay from 3 pm - 7 pm