Katrina Helping to Fill Vacancies for Florida's Teacher Shortage

Florida began the school year with a shortage of more than 2,000 teachers. Now, with so many Hurricane Katrina victims moving to the state, school officials are urging teachers to apply soon.

The state is making it easier for those who’ve been displaced to get back to work.

Forced to flee Katrina, Erin Henderson had barely started her teaching career in New Orleans. Now she’s applying for a job in Tallahassee.

“I can’t just sit in the hotel forever, so I’m anxious to get back in the classroom.”

To help teachers like Erin get into the classroom sooner and to make life easier, the school district is paying the fee for background checks.

Bill Montford is the Leon County School Superintendent and says, “It’s a good opportunity for us to have some additional well qualified, hard working employees and applicants.”

It’s a similar situation around Florida. The state has thousands of teacher openings because of the demands of the class size amendment.

Education Commissioner John Winn is urging displaced teachers to apply for some 23 hundred jobs the state was unable to fill. He says qualified teachers won’t have to take the Florida Certification Test.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re not adding bureaucracy to their efforts to get in the classrooms right away.”

The influx of qualified teachers is a bittersweet solution for a state desperate for teachers and a welcome opportunity for Erin and others like her.

If you are interested in a teaching position, go to www.teachinflorida.com and you can view teacher openings throughout the state.