Lee County teacher shortage may be more severe than anticipated

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Despite the recent pay raise, Lee County Schools are still short on teachers; however, the teachers union claims that the shortage number is higher than the county admits.

The Lee County School Board admits the county is still 200 teachers short.

The chronic problem teachers said is covering multiple classes without a teacher.

What everyone hoped would be temporary has become permanent.

WINK News spoke with Marie Aulino, a teacher who has expressed how overworked Lee County teachers are.

“I just feel so tired and sad,” said Aulino.

WINK met with Aulino in October. Back then, she was a Lee County High School teacher living with her mom, living paycheck to paycheck.

Fed up with her dead-end situation, Aulino quit her job as a Lee County teacher and began working elsewhere.

“I can work at Target and get paid more, honestly,” said Aulino.

She said she’s no longer living paycheck to paycheck and soon will leave her mother’s house.

Aulino is not the only teacher to quit. The teachers’ union said that since October, as many as 25 teachers have left the district.

Union president Kevin Daly said that means more work for those who remain and with no bump in pay.

“There are kids that are still having to go into those classrooms every day, so that’s teachers or, you know, teachers are having to cover those classes,” said Daly.

Due to the shortage, Aulino told WINK News that she would be asked to teach a subject she wasn’t qualified to teach.

“I taught Spanish, and you have to cover when you’re at that level,” said Aulino. “They would have you cover anything. For example, our science teachers are out today, who’s available to cover, and they’ll call anybody in there,” she said.

This became obvious to the children, as Aulino claimed the influx of teachers leaving classrooms has discouraged students.

Aulino’s case is one of many former Lee County teachers have told, each being more frustrating.

WINK News had tried to talk with Lee County Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier about the shortage, but he refused to give a statement.

New teacher contract negotiations for 2025 are currently underway.

Parents, WINK News would like to know: Are you still seeing the effects of the teacher shortage?

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