Collier County seeks 300 new teachers, touts program incentives

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Man teaches classroom full of children. (Credit: Neonbrand Unsplash)
Man teaches classroom full of children. (Credit: Neonbrand Unsplash)

“Teachers Make America Great,” a sign Collier County schools said reads true in the district.

For the upcoming school year, the School District of Collier County believes they will need to add more than 300 great, new teachers. The search comes as there is a teacher shortage across the state. The county has put together several programs to bring in talented educators before it becomes an additional negative statistic in the deficit.

“If we’re going to maintain top academic status in the state of Florida – we’re tied for third out of 67 counties – you have to go after the best and the brightest,” said Chad Oliver, the executive director of communications and community engagement at Collier County Public Schools.

To do that costs money. Jonathan Tuttle, with the Collier County Education Association, said the district does not pay nearly enough considering the cost of living in the county. For a family of four to buy a house, they would need to earn around $80,000 a year.

“We’re great in the state,” Oliver said, “but if someone comes down here from Massachusetts or Connecticut, California they get in and say I can’t live on this and they can’t.”

The average teacher salary in Collier County is $54,000 a year while in Lee and Collier counties it is $46,000, according to the Florida Dept. of Education. But Oliver said the School District of Collier County offers other ways to make teaching more attractive.

“‘Teach for Collier’ is someone who has a four-year degree in another industry, who maybe wants to come into education, we see a lot of that in the secondary level,” Oliver said.

‘Grow to Teach’ is designed for people already working in the district in a supporting role. It puts candidates on a pathway to go after their bachelor’s degree to get certified to teach.

The School District of Collier County plans to host a teacher recruitment fair next month for those interested in a career in teaching.

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