JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Teachers are back to school and setting up their classrooms and preparing for the new school year.
“I'm excited because this school year my students that I've had since their first day in high school they’ll be in 11th grade, so we’ve grown up together... this school year I'm ready to see their growth," said Alexis Cheatham, teacher and mentor with Elevate Jacksonville.
Since the pandemic, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene says the school district still faces a teacher shortage.
Duval County Public Schools has 451 vacancies. Of those, 388 are classroom vacancies.
“We have a plan in place where district admin will either be substituting on Monday or Friday," said Greene. "Our district program specialist an support staff at the school that are certified educators will also be in the classroom Tuesday through Thursday."
This isn’t the first year DCPS is dealing with this issue.
“It's an unfortunate position because as a teacher we have become so much more," said Greene. "We become family members. We become so many things to our students."
Greene says that there’s a variety of reasons to why DCPS has a teacher shortage. One of them being teacher pay.
“Just four years ago, beginning teacher pay in Duval County was $39,500," said Greene. "Today beginning teacher pay is $47,500. The issue is it didn’t move for veteran teachers. The funding was mainly for beginning teacher pay."
Greene says the board made a resolution to put a referendum on the ballot.
“This board brought forth a resolution to put a referendum on the ballot. The current ballot that voting started today through Aug. 23 to add a 1 mill to improved teacher compensation," said Greene.
Greene says we need to make sure teachers who have remained committed to the profession and the school district has the pay to show that they are valued and appreciated.
Teaching industry isn’t the only issue they face.
“We have not only a teacher shortage, but we have a bus driver shortage. Those routes will be longer. Please register online if you need transportation for our secondary students," said Greene.
For the second year, Greene says JTA is providing a pilot program where secondary students can ride public transportation for free 24/7.
“Over 200 students used that transportation last school year, and we predict that more students will utilize it," said Greene.
Greene says if your bus is delayed you can go to the DCPS website to check the status of the school bus.