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Tampa Bay area schools in a hiring rush before school starts

Hundreds of positions are open from teachers to custodians and many districts are aiming to fill positions this week.

BARTOW, Fla. — You know summer is winding down when all the aisles at stores are filled with brightly colored notebooks, backpacks and pencils.

Classes are starting again, largely in person, for Tampa Bay school districts. Just weeks before kids hop onto school buses and file back into classrooms, districts across the bay area are scrambling to find bus drivers, teachers, tutors, nutrition staff and other school administrators.

Hillsborough County is hiring school bus drivers and mechanics at a job fair on Monday. The district has dozens of positions open.

Pasco County has more than 300 job listings posted, Pinellas County has more than 70 openings for teachers and the Polk County School District has a whopping 220 teacher openings for the 2021-2011 school year.

Polk county is opening three brand new schools this year so they're trying to fill those positions while recruiting for positions left open by teachers who decided to leave because of COVID-19.

"COVID definitely did not help things for us, but I feel like we're trying to poke at different avenues we never thought of, like kids who have graduated with non-education degrees who may want to teach," explained Caroline Giroux, a recruiter with the Polk County School District.

New hires do not have to have prior teaching experience, although it is encouraged. Potential applicants need to secure a temporary teaching certification from Florida's Department of Education and prove they're working toward full certification. Polk County is hosting a job fair for open positions on Wednesday, July 28. 

You may wonder, as a parent, how thorough the vetting process is for a new teacher since the turnaround to the start of the school year is so quick. 

"We really try and get to know the type of person the applicant is, to make sure they're a good fit and actually care about our students. Then we have a department dedicated to running background checks and going through other requirements," Giroux said. 

The starting salary for a new teacher within the Polk County School District is $45,172.


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