Lee County schools suffering persistent teacher shortage, down 200 educators

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

The teacher shortage in Lee County schools isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. On Wednesday, WINK News talked with teachers who left, all of whom blamed low pay.

WINK News spoke with Tamryn Taylor in her office at the Quality of Life Center on Thursday. She’s an academic specialist supervisor and youth programs assistant.

Looking around her office and looking at the posters, books and decorations, it’s clear how much she loves children and teaching them. For three years, Taylor taught at Treeline Elementary and one year at Franklin Park.

However, she stopped doing what she loves when she couldn’t take it anymore.

“It was to the point where if I could not find something of a pay increase, I’d have to search out for roommates or get a second job,” said Taylor. “If anything happened to me where I had to take time off, or I got hurt, or whatever the case may be, there wasn’t enough to cover anything extra. There was barely enough to have any form of a social life or anything of self-care.”

It sounded familiar to Taylor when she saw WINK News reporting on Wednesday about how teachers are struggling and why they’re quitting. Teachers are dealing with low pay, overcrowded classrooms and more.

“You’re now a first-grade, second-grade, third-grade, fourth-grade and fifth-grade teacher because you have so many different types of students in your class,” said Taylor.

Taylor went on to note feeling what she called “underwhelming support” from those around her.

“Life as a teacher is hard. Because you do so much, you juggle so many roles,” said Taylor.

It could worsen, given that the Lee County Teachers Association says the district is down 200 educators.

WINK News spoke with Kevin Daly, the president of the Lee County Teachers Association about the issue.

“Instead of a teacher having their planning period or something, they’re forced to cover the class, and so they don’t get a break all day,” said Daly.

Moreover, the teachers aren’t getting extra pay.

Daly told WINK News that teachers who can’t do it daily leave. In return, the district has fewer teachers to pay.

But where does that money go? A Lee County Schools spokesman told WINK News the money goes into a fund to hire more teachers. Daly said the money needs to go to teachers already on the job.

“Because they can’t hire, that money essentially should be spread out amongst the employees who are covering classes and doing the extra work,” said Daly.

The school district did not make anyone available to talk with WINK News about the teacher shortage, teachers quitting and the impact on students.

Copyright Ā©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.