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Leon County Schools Face Teacher Shortage

A teacher reads to her student.
U.S. Department of Education

Leon County Schools will be experiencing a teacher shortage in the upcoming school year. The district is struggling to replace some 50 retiring teachers.

The district is looking at vacancies in elementary ed, math, science and special education. And it’s not clear when those vacancies will be filled. It’s a national trend, but some say the shortage in Florida could stem from high-stakes standardized testing. But Leon County Schools Official Deana McAllister says the right candidates won’t shy away.

“Teachers who are in this career and this is their passion, because this is a highly tested grade level and they work well with their team, that tends not to be a concern if they feel the support from their administrator and they feel the support from they’re team, and they’re well prepared,” she said.

The shortage could come down to salary as well. On average, Leon County teachers take home about $43,000 a year, nearly $5,000 less than some South Florida districts. Retention is also an issue. While universities in the area produce qualified teachers, many leave after graduation. The district has begun recruiting, but hasn’t offered any contracts yet.

While the number of teachers so far sits at 50, McAllister says it could go higher. Some current contracts may not be renewed and other teachers may have to move. She expects the district could hire up to 150 new teachers, and says its looking for a mix of new and experienced educators to serve.