SEBRING — The School Board of Highlands County has long-term substitutes scheduled to fill most of the 60 openings for teachers with the school year starting Monday.
Deputy Superintendent Andrew Lethbridge said many of the long-term substitutes haven’t passed a specific test in the allotted time frame to be a certified teacher so they had to go back to sub status, unfortunately.
Many have had struggles with some of the state tests, he said. There is documentation on how many fail the tests multiple times and their challenges.
Also, it is expensive being several hundred dollars every time they retake a certification test, Lethbridge said. Some just walk away from education because they are so disheartened by the number of times it has taken them.
“So we are losing some quality people just based on ... how many times do you want to take the test and not pass it,” he said.
To try to fill some of those teacher openings the district had a teacher recruiting event on Aug. 1 seeking those who have bachelor’s degrees or higher with a desire to teach.
About 10 individuals came to the event, Lethbridge said. It was a good informational meeting in which they were exploring what they would need to do to become teachers.
“I think a couple of them were already going into subbing so they registered to become subs as they are working toward positions,” he said. They also sought more clarification on the certification tests and the path they would need to take to become fully certified.
“In the end it would be definitely a win even if we ended up with one or two new teachers,” Lethbridge said.
Did the district hire any teachers this year from the recruiting trips to universities in Ohio and Indiana?
Lethbridge believes four teachers were hired this year from the out-of-state recruiting trips.
“It changes sometimes as it grows and then goes down,” he said. “People will commit that they are coming and then all of a sudden you hear ‘no’ they are not coming.”
The current openings include: music teacher at Park Elementary, teacher at Memorial Elementary, ESE teacher at Hill-Gustat Middle and an English teacher at Avon Park High.