Teacher shortage affecting Alachua County
As the new school year begins, districts statewide are still struggling to find teachers for classrooms.
There are currently 30 teacher vacancies in Alachua County and more than 1,600 statewide.
“We’re seeing it more this year than we have in years past. It tends to each year get a little more and more visible to us," Alachua County Schools superintendent Karen Clarke said.
There are critical shortages for teachers in subjects like science, English, math and reading across the state.
Overcrowded classrooms and lack of funding are some of the factors teachers say may be discouraging graduates from entering the field.
Teachers like Lee Matthey say they love making a connection with students, but the low pay can come at a high cost.
" It makes it hard because I still have a life, I still have a mortgage to pay and all those other things," Matthey said.
The low pay may be driving many teachers out of the profession. The average starting salary for a teacher is $30, 000 -- which is much lower than many other professions requiring similar training and responsibilities.
While the state continues to struggle with the shortage, teachers like Susie Hill who have chosen to stay in the field say though the job is difficult its rewarding.
“To be a teacher is a lot of self-sacrifice. You have to truly commit to it and it becomes a lifetime passion once you do commit to it.”