First day of school arrives in Hillsborough County as district juggles teacher deficit

Hillsborough County schools kicked off the new year Wednesday morning. 

There is plenty of excitement, especially for the students and staff who will call Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy home. It’s the newest school in the district that was built to help with overcrowding issues.

However, despite all the excitement, there are still issues that need to be addressed. Mainly, they need more teachers. Significant staffing shortages are hitting the district hard.

Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis said there are more than open teacher positions in the district, as of the first day of school. This is down from 700 earlier this month. 

The district is doing what they can to try and fill the gaps including trying to hire more part-time teachers, asking those who recently retired to return to the classroom, even using 300 certified district employees to cover classrooms where needed while they try to get more teachers in the door.

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Davis said it’s an issue he thinks could be fixed by paying their teachers more, motivating them to want to stay with the district. 

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He added that it’s why he’s pushing for a property tax increase on the November ballot. It would be used to raise those salaries.

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While staffing shortages get sorted out, the district says they’ve been working hard all summer to make sure their schools are as safe as possible.

Every school has a crisis alert system in place to help keep everyone on the same page in case of an emergency and to make sure first responders can get to the school as quickly as possible. In addition to this, every school has perimeter fencing in place, armed guards and also single entry points to make sure every student and staff member is safe.