As teacher shortage looms, Palm Beach County School District searches for ways to close the gap

Posted at 8:00 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 20:00:11-04

For many parents, nothing is more important than a quality education.

“We take their academics very seriously and make sure they come home and get done what they have to get done,” says parent Toby Carr.

However, looming teacher shortages are set to pose major issues in classrooms across the state.

“A teacher can only provide so much attention to each child,” Carr says.

Now, desperate times call for new solutions.

The latest program from the district - a collaboration with Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

One option offered by Nova will train teacher's aides in the district to become teachers.

Another option targets college students directly - allowing them to substitute in the district in their senior year.

After graduation, they could be offered full time positions with the district.

"People know if they want to be a teacher or a doctor or a lawyer, so it gives you some of the skills necessary early on to be able to function in those positions," says Kathi Gundlach, president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers' Association.

The district is not just stopping there.

Outside of the Nova program, it's reaching out to 'Non Traditional' employees - like engineers and accountants -  giving them the training necessary to work in the classroom.

The district is also reaching out to recent retirees, hoping to convince them to come out of retirement and back into the system to fill the classroom jobs.

Parents hope it's enough to stop the bleeding - but say ultimately it comes down to dollars and cents.

“We need teachers to get paid more pay - at least that will help them recruit better teachers,” parent Rafael Perez says.

“This is one of the most important jobs we have,” Carr says. “And if you want this job done correctly, you have to support it financially.”

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