Lee County Schools teacher shortage from students’ perspective

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

The Lee County Schools’ website proudly proclaims it has “over 95,000 students” and “120 schools.” The problem is those 120 schools are short 196 teachers.

“There’s a warm body covering the classroom; we can’t get substitutes,” said Kimberly Fisher, a current Lee County Schools teacher. “If we can, it’s a series of substitutes, a different person every day, or it’s a number of teachers filling in on their own planning period.”

Teachers left behind are covering multiple classes.

One teacher who asked WINK News to hide her identity said, “I covered for a math class, an algebra II class, that hasn’t had a teacher all year. I babysat. Because I don’t know how to teach Algebra II. They just come in for one period, they do nothing, literally nothing. Nobody has said anything. Kids are sitting on their phones, playing on their phones or playing on their Chromebooks or working on other work or putting their heads down and going to sleep.”

Parents told WINK News their kids say things are different.

“My daughter has said that one of her classrooms has so many students that don’t have seating,” said Ashley Lanz.

Mom Brandi Cauldwell said, “We just had the halfway point for the first quarter, and checking his grades in one particular class. He is not doing as good as I like, and I asked him about the class and he’s like, ‘I tried to get help, but when I raise my hand or try to get the teacher’s attention, she’s kind of busy elsewhere.'”

Gwyn Gittens knows education as a teacher and a former member of the school board. She said she knows no one in the district wants overcrowded classrooms or overworked teachers.

“Who suffers in the end? The children,” Gittens said.

Eighteen teachers quit their jobs last week. Gittens predicts they’ll continue to quit until things change, short-term and long-term.

Lee County Schools offered teachers an eight percent pay raise across the board. The union plans to present a counteroffer during their next bargaining session set for Tuesday.

The school district will not comment, saying it’s inappropriate while contract talks are ongoing.

Small classes are turning into crowds in Lee County Schools, due to the ongoing teacher shortage.

“It’s going to become very college lecture hall style, where we put all the students in one giant room and they work on their computers for their eight hours and they go home,” said Tamryn Taylor.

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