NCFL school districts face the fallout of teacher shortages

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A sign that reads “Now hiring! Substitute Teachers” hangs over the fence of Littlewood Elementary School as students make their return for the new school year.

While most students would expect to come face-to-face with their permanent teacher on their first day, that wasn’t the case for many in Alachua County.

According to a spokesperson for the Alachua County School District, students in 30 classrooms walked in to substitute teachers.

Crystal Bartolome, whose children attend Littlewood Elementary, said if that were the case for her children, “I would probably be looking into a different school, putting them in a charter school of some sort, or even homeschooling.”

Bartolome isn’t the only parent with these concerns.

“You see on Facebook people posting about shortages in their district, how they’re cutting down to a four day school week because they just don’t have staffing,” said Angela Silva, parent.

School district officials hope bringing in more substitute teachers will provide a short-term solution to this problem.

“I thought about signing up to be a sub just when I could,” said Silva. “It sparks a desire to be more involved, even on a volunteer basis in my kids’ school.”

Meanwhile in Marion County, 152 classroom teacher positions need to be filled.

School district officials in Columbia County say they have eight teacher openings, and in Gilchrist County, only two.

Another problem for these school districts is a shortage of bus drivers.

“We moved from North Carolina and there it was a huge deal. They were telling the teachers basically that they had to step up and be the bus drivers,” said Silva.

A Gilchrist County school official said they have just enough bus drivers to get by, but without any extras, they could have to cancel extracurricular trips.

A spokesperson for Alachua County Public Schools said they do have enough bus drivers to cover all of the routes, but they could always use more substitute drivers.

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