Lee County is experiencing a massive shortage of teachers for public schools, with the standout issue being the salary.
The teacher’s union is getting involved to fill the 200 open positions, while trying to keep current teachers from leaving.
The Lee County school district had allocated money into a fund to hire more people. However, educators are saying the money should be going into the current teaching staff budget.
The starting salary for a Lee County teacher starts at around $48,250. While in nearby counties, the starting salary is much higher. Collier County starts teachers at around $53,000. Charlotte starts at around $52,000; and DeSoto County starts at around $51,000.
Teachers choose to leave during the middle of the school year for better job opportunities because they are unable to make ends meet in Lee County.
Overcrowded classrooms and underwhelming support have had an effect on why some teachers are abandoning education.
WINK News spoke with the Dean of Oak Hammock Middle School. The Dean told WINK that the middle school teachers are working through their planning period while covering for other classes.
The consensus is that the district needs to step up and pay teachers more.
“We have to do better. The money needs to be in the classroom. We should have pay to stay in the classroom. You want them to stay there, be happy. In order to do that, they need to be paid adequately, treated professionally, respectfully and we kinda missed that,” said Lee County School Board member Melissa Giovannelli.
The Lee County School District and the teacher’s union are in negotiations regarding a solution that will hopefully put more money in teacher’s pockets. Until then, Lee County schools will continue to see strain on the current teaching staff.