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Where have all the teachers gone? State needs more than 4,000

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says there are still more than 4,000 teacher vacancies that need to be filled halfway through the year.
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The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says there are still more than 4,000 teacher vacancies that need to be filled halfway through the year.

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says Florida still needs some 4,000 teachers to fill in-demand instructional and classroom aide roles.

The Florida Education Association says the shortage that comes halfway through the school year is critically impacting English language learners and special education students.

The state also needs almost 3,500 support staff including bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

That’s an improvement from August, when the state still needed 7,000 teachers and about 5,000 support staff to start the year.

But FEA president Andrew Spar says the current numbers are still too high, writing, "A shortage of more than 4,000 teachers is more than the population of teachers in 19 of Florida’s smallest counties combined.”

The FEA says improving teacher pay and working conditions, spending more on mental health resources in schools, and keeping politics out of the classroom could help attract and keep teachers in Florida.

Florida ranks 48th in the nation for teacher salary, and 43rd for per student spending.

Here's a breakdown of vacancies by Central Florida county:

  • Orange: 94
  • Osceola: 112
  • Seminole: 55
  • Volusia: 107
  • Brevard: 167
  • Polk: 386
  • Flagler: 19
  • Marion: 3

Find other counties' data here.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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