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Hillsborough County schools still looking to fill job openings heading into the new school year

Kids across Hillsborough County are gearing up to head back to the classroom, but a major staffing shortage is causing problems for schools across the district.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Thousands of students across the Tampa Bay area are set to go back to school this week. For Hillsborough County schools, the first day back is Wednesday, however, the district is still facing staffing issues. 

“We do face challenges trying to win the talent war. We have 680 instructional vacancies," Hillsborough County School superintendent Addison Davis said.

Teacher advocacy groups say teachers are leaving the profession daily for a variety of reasons.

"I just spoke to an educator from Hillsborough, to a teacher, she had just gone through her entire bachelor program ... all she wanted to do was be a teacher, she left at nine weeks, and she went to work at a car rental," said Angela Wynn with Support Our Schools. 

Davis says part of the problem is Hillsborough County schools are struggling to stay competitive when it comes to pay.

"We have to be able to properly compensate all of our employees, especially our teachers and our support staff,” Davis said. 

A property tax increase is up for a vote on Aug. 23, the approximately $146 million generated annually would increase salaries for teachers and staff while also expanding art, music and physical education programs. Davis says it’s the only way they can keep up with surrounding counties.

"We’ve got to be able to look through the lens of equity and we’ve got to be able to have the same salary schedule and compensation packages that surrounding counties do," he said. "This is an opportunity to keep and retain our best and brightest."

According to the school district, it could enhance the average instructional salary by $4,000 and the average non-instructional salary by $2,000.

The proposed tax would demand an additional dollar for every $1,000 of real estate value for people who live in Hillsborough County. In other words, if a home is assessed at $200,000, the property owner pays $200 after Florida's Homestead Exemption is applied.

In the meantime, the district is having to make some adjustments to make sure the year starts as smoothly as possible

“We deployed close to 300 district staff into our classrooms, so we’re going to be able to fill the majority of our vacancies and our teachers continue to step up and cover classrooms during their planning periods, to make certain instruction continues to be seamless,” Davis said.

    

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