Bay Area districts still face teacher shortage as students head back to classroom

With students in the Tampa Bay region heading back to the classroom Wednesday, Brandon Radd was putting the final touches on his fifth grade classroom for his first year at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo. 

He was recently hired by Pinellas County schools from up north after quitting his job on Wall Street for something, he says, is more rewarding. 

"People ask me all the time why I choose it, I tell them when you have an "aha "moment with a kid, and they look at you like you’re superman, and you teach them a math problem or something and that’s the most priceless check," Radd said.  

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Radd completed his masters to join his girlfriend, Sydney Todd, who both teach at Ridgecrest Elementary. They came from the New York and New Jersey area after being hired virtually by Principal Viki Graham, who has had to deal with a teacher shortage. 

"I’ve been very careful about the people I’ve hired and not to move too quickly," Graham said.

When it comes to teacher staffing in the Bay Area – Pinellas County schools is in the better position – with 113 teacher vacancies to fill. Pasco has 313 teacher vacancies, and as of last week, the Hillsborough school district had 620 vacancies.  

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The demand for teachers is driven by the number of students and enrollment being up everywhere in the Tampa Bay region.  

Districts are solving the problem by bringing in substitute teachers, and also letting certified staff help fill the gap.