Florida faces a worsening shortage of teachers and education professionals, with low staff pay and pandemic concerns being blamed for job vacancies that have increased more than 67% since August 2020, the state’s largest education union says.

The Sunshine State started the new school year in August with nearly 5,000 teacher vacancies and nearly 4,000 openings for education staff, including bus drivers, teacher aides, cafeteria workers and janitors, Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said in a video posted Monday.

But instead of vacancies gradually being filled, Spar said the shortage has gotten worse.

Low pay and staff pandemic concerns are being blamed for a more than 67% rise in job vacancies throughout Florida's schools since August 2020.
Low pay and staff pandemic concerns are being blamed for a more than 67% rise in job vacancies throughout Florida’s schools since August 2020.

Statewide, as of last week, there were openings for nearly 5,100 teachers and more than 4,000 education staffers, Spar said, citing the union’s latest count of job listings.

“We are in a critical state here in Florida regarding these vacancies. We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do more,” Spar said.

The union has cited a number of reasons for the hiring shortfall, including low pay, and stress and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

That pay bump for new teachers, spearheaded by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), has been criticized as too little and neglectful of veteran teachers.

Anna Fusco, president of the teacher’s union in Broward County, which had 418 instructional job vacancies posted last week, blamed pay disparities for schools’ high job turnover.

“We are getting beat up by the government, parents, students, and management,” Fusco told CBS Miami. “And we make $47,500” in salary.

The Florida Department of Education did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the job vacancies.

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