FLORIDA, USA — It's an ongoing problem across the country, Florida being no exception.
We're talking about teacher shortages. In the Sunshine State, there are currently more than 4,200 teacher vacancies. The state education association (FEA), the union that represents Florida teachers, said openings have never been so high.
"The teacher shortage is the worst we've ever seen," said Andrew Spar, the president of FEA. "Right now, we have over 4,200 vacancies across Florida."
So, how are schools coping? More kids in the same classrooms.
"The accommodations sometimes are combining classes," Citrus County Superintendent Sandra Himmel said. "The accommodations are we send district staff out to go be the principal for the day so the principal can go to the classes and see what's going on."
The teacher shortage isn't just caused by teacher burnout, it's also due to fewer students considering teaching careers.
"We've been seeing a dramatic decline in the number of people wanting to become teachers," Spar said. "We've actually had, over the last 7 years, a 35 percent in the number of teachers who have been graduating from Florida colleges and universities."
During the state's board of education meeting Wednesday, members discussed the possibility of using college students to help fill substitute and full-time openings.
"We want high-quality education whenever we can get it," Board of Education Chair Tom Grady said. "But having someone who is motivated and in an education program, as opposed to having no one, maybe there is something there we can do."
Board members will look into striking a balance between certification requirements and the severe need for teachers.
A board of education report shows the state is only producing a third of the teachers needed to fill current openings.
"Our teachers are very frustrated right now," Spar said. "They are very tired they are very stressed out. I wish I could point to one thing. But there is so much going on. Clearly pay is a driving factor in this decision."
There are state laws in place that dictate teacher pay. The Florida Education Association wants to see legislation changed to allow teachers to get bigger paychecks.