JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There is a shortage of thousands of teachers across Florida, including more than 500 vacancies in Duval County Public Schools.
In an email, DCPS explained to current staff how the district is planning to handle the vacancies with the approaching school year.
"This challenge isn’t new," said Dr. Diana Greene in an email to district employees. "It became particularly acute last school year. This year, like last year, we are prepared to respond as needed to achieve the primary goal of giving our students the best learning experience possible even within these extraordinary constraints."
Greene says Grade K-8 class sizes will increase an average of 1.5 students per class, and Grade 9-12 class sizes will increase by one student.
She says the current vacancy number would be significantly higher if the district did not make these adjustments.
Additionally, Greene says there are positions throughout the school district where certified teachers are working in leadership and professional support roles. Those personnel will start to work with their supervisors to integrate classroom coverage into their weekly schedules.
"These individuals are highly experienced, successful educators who typically support other teachers," said Greene. "They will now be available to cover classes, ensuring even more students have access to high quality instruction."
Additionally, to attract more substitutes, she says the School Board recently approved a recommendation to increase compensation and training through the substitute staffing vendor, ESS.
"I recognize that many of these decisions impact many of you personally. Most teachers will see an average of one or two more students in class, and many other staff members will take on temporary teaching duties," Greene said.
"We are now working directly with about 30 teachers being transferred to different schools due to the class size modifications. The impact of these decisions on your lives is not lost on me, but I hope you can understand these decisions in the context of what this situation means for our students.
We are in this together. We are in this for our students, and I remain greatly appreciative of the continued willingness of Team Duval to adapt and respond to the difficult challenges we face."