Clay County District Schools avoids teacher staffing shortages despite pandemic

Zoey Fields

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused labor shortages across the nation in various fields, calling attention to pay and retention rates in certain jobs. One field, in particular, that has been dramatically affected has been staffing shortages in schools.

While Duval County public schools have faced staffing shortages, experiencing the largest teacher shortage in Duval County history, the Clay County district has not met a similar fate.

The Clay County district reports it is maintaining similar retention rates to prior years, despite the impact of the pandemic, according to data collected from the district.

According to current staffing numbers, both instructional positions and school staff, the district has a grand total of 5,213 full-time district employees, 265 more employees than in 2018.

“Clay County has always been known for its education,” District 3 school board member Beth Clark said. “We are a bedroom community for Jacksonville in the same way St. Johns was and is.”

Clark is a native of Northeast Florida, born and raised in Duval County until her mother got a job in St. Augustine, she said.

“I saw St. Johns County before Clay County was much of anything,” she said. “But Clay County quickly became known for its schools, because people would simply move or drive across the Duval County line to send their children here.”

Clay County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state of Florida and the district serves roughly 38,000 students in 44 different schools, according to the district’s website.

“The CCDS Human Resources team works daily to recruit quality teachers and staff, both inside and outside our community,” Coordinator of Communications and Media Partnerships Laura Christmas said. “The district prides itself on its high-quality education and constantly strives to provide an environment where all of our students feel welcome.”

The student-to-teacher ratio when it comes to demographics in Clay County District Schools, however, is where the district seeks to improve, Beth Clark said.

“Right now, we have a school board made up of all women and we would love to see more representation on the board,” she said. “The ideal candidate would be a parent who currently has students in the system. They would be the perfect model of a board member, but the parents don’t have time.”

The inconsistencies in demographics translate over to school district data within the schools as well. According to staffing data from the 2021-2022 school year, of the 5,213 full-time district employees, not limited to instructors, 4,196 of them are women.

Of the students currently enrolled in Clay County schools, 21,816 are male and 20,442 are female.

“As times have changed, we see more women going into fields like nursing, science and business,“ Clark said. “It’s my hope that with more women straying away from teaching, more men will step in to fill those roles.”

A new initiative in Duval County Public Schools, “The ONES” is a partnership between the school district and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund to recruit and retain 1,000 new Black and Latino male teachers by 2025. The goal was set by Duval County Public Schools chairman Darryl Willie, in coordination with other education leaders who want to see improvements in school system representation.

The ONES group is specifically focused on Duval County and has not yet verified whether they may attempt to expand the initiative to surrounding counties, such as Clay.

As of Thursday, April 21, Clay County District Schools has 45 job openings, none of which are instructional teaching positions. The school district is set for the rest of the year with the teachers and instructors already employed, Christmas explained.

The district will be holding a job fair for instructional positions for the 2022-2023 school year Tuesday, May 3 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Fleming Island High School.

Those interested in applying to work as an instructor in the district must fit the criteria as outlined by the School District of Clay County Instructional Personnel Evaluation System, guidelines determining instructional practices, the performance of students and other criteria one must meet before working within the district.

The full evaluation system can be seen here.
Clay County District Schools has managed to avoid staffing shortages, despite national labor shortage.Clay County District Schools

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Accredited journalist with experience covering a wide range of stories consisting of breaking news, city and county government, crime and courts, feature stories and local interest. Facebook Bulletin writer, reporter; The Learning Curve. Twitter: @zoeyfields0

Jacksonville, FL

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