Teacher vacancies are on the rise at staggering numbers across Florida and here on the First Coast.
That’s according to a recent study by the Learning Policy Institute. The study reports teacher demand is growing, student enrollment is growing and more teachers are retiring early. We looked at the numbers in Duval, St. Johns and Clay counties and they all reported teacher vacancies.
"Right now, a diploma is not enough - having a college degree is very important," says Katina Watts, a mother of a student in Duval County Schools.
Duval County reported having 100 vacancies. St. Johns reported 89 and Clay County is reporting 22 vacancies.
Watts says her 17-year-old son is graduating next year and although he’s had a successful career both on the field and in the classroom, she says she’s concerned with the numbers.
The study says national student enrollment is expected to grow by 3,000,000 in the next decade.
In St. Johns County alone, over the last year, the student population has grown by 1,800 and the county has tied to keep up the pace with hiring.
Clay County says it’s hard to recruit teachers for secondary positions like math and science.
Another issue contributing to the teacher shortage according to the study is teachers retiring earlier. Parents say the statistics are alarming.
“I am very concerned, my nephew he's only 9 now so I don't know how it's going to be," says Watts.
Between 2009 and 2014, teacher education enrollments dropped 35 percent, according to the study.