FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – As teacher shortages continue to be a struggle for Central Florida school districts, Flagler County’s school board has said it might now extend its search to outside of the United States to fill the gaps.
The district currently has more than 20 open instructional positions.
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“Our needs aren’t quite as great as some of the larger counties, but we definitely are still looking for great folks who want to get in front of our kids,” said Bob Ouellette, the district’s chief of human resources.
He said it has been a struggle to recruit.
“We try to reach out to all of the area universities, but they graduate less teaching school graduates now. The alternative certification folks are great, and I know the governor has worked on things as far as alternative certifications for military folks, but there is still a need,” Ouellette said.
It’s why the school board began talking about bringing in international teachers at its meeting Wednesday. The district would contract with an exchange provider called TPG.
“They go out internationally and recruit highly qualified teachers with at least three years of experience. They go through a cultural exchange program for teaching in the state of Florida or the United States and then we interview candidates,” Ouellette said.
Ouellette said 15 other districts in Florida have already turned to TPG to fill gaps.
The teachers have the equivalent of a four-year bachelor’s degree and are temporarily placed in U.S. classrooms for one to five years.
Board documents also show TPG would sponsor visas and that the teachers would cost the district $7,000 to $9,000 less per year than local teachers.
“If this is the direction that we end up going, it will be something that won’t be available to us until we hit July and August of the upcoming school year,” Ouellette said.
Oullette also called it a win-win for both the teachers and students, who he said would get to learn other perspectives from around the world.
Right now, most of the district’s shortages that it hopes to fill are in STEM classes and special education, Ouellette said.
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