Teacher shortage Q&A: 6 things you need to know about Lee and Collier counties (2024)

Nikki Ross|Fort Myers News-Press

Nationwide teaching shortages areexperienced firsthand in both Lee and Collier counties this year.

Here are some key takeaways about the teaching shortage in SWFL:

Lee and Collier school districts struggle to fill teaching vacancies, retain teachers

How many teaching vacancies are there in SWFL?

As of Aug 10,the Lee County School Districtreported 3.5%, or 208, of their roughly 6,000 teaching positions werevacant.In Collier County, nearly 2%, or 60, of the 3,100 teaching positions were vacant.

How many teaching vacancies are there statewide?

A survey released by theFlorida Education Association earlier this year, showed there were more than9,500 teaching and staff vacancies statewide. Around this time last year,the same agency reported nearly 5,000 shortages.

According to the Florida Education Association, this schoolyear's faculty and staff shortages could leave more than450,000 students without full-time, certified teachers.

Back to school:Here's everything Collier County parents, students need to know

And: Here's everything Lee County parents, students need to know

Why are there teaching shortages in SWFL?

There are a number of reasons for the shortage:

  • Experts attribute law pay, testing, stringent schedules and new laws all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a flood of teachers resigning.
  • In Lee and Collier counties, retirementand lowpay combined with soaring rent and housing costs have made it difficult to recruit and retain teachers in the area, according to the school districts.

How much are teachers paid in SWFL?

  • For the Lee County School District, the base salary is $47,300.There is a $2,531 stipend for teachers with a master's degree; a $4,050 stipend for teachers with a specialists degree; and a $5-62 stipend for teachers witha doctorate.
  • The starting salary for teachers in the Collier County School District with a bachelor's degree is $47,720.

Have any veterans applied to teach in SWFL?

In July, the Florida Department of Education announced that military veterans, as well as their spouses, would receivea five-year voucher that allows them to teach in the classroomdespite not receiving a degree to do so. It's a move tied to the$8.6 million the state announcedwould be used to expandcareer and workforce training opportunities for military veterans and their spouses.

So far, no veterans or their spouses have applied to be a teacher in Lee or Collier school districts.

How are SWFL districts retaining teachers?


The Collier County School District works hard to help guest teachers and support staff obtain their teaching degree to become full-time teachers. They also work to help teachers rise up to principals.

This school year, the district was able to take 117 guest teachers from last year and make them full time teachers this year.


In Lee County Schools, peer collaborative teachers, which teach part-time and coach the other half of the time, work with new teachers to help them build up their curriculum and provide support and feedback.

Nikki Ross covers education for the Fort Myers News-Press and Naples Daily News.She can be reached at NRoss@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @nikkiinreallife.

Teacher shortage Q&A: 6 things you need to know about Lee and Collier counties (2024)
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