ORLANDO, Fla. — After months of waiting, Osceola County educators asking for a "Cost of Living Adjustment" finally have their answer and the district countered their 8.7% request with a $1,000 one-time payment for instructional staff.

What You Need To Know

  • Many teachers are saying that there is a wage dispute and a teacher shortage
  • Osceola County officials told Spectrum News 13 they have 177 instructional vacancies

“They came back with basically a band-aid that is not going to solve the problem at all," explained Emily Gorentz, the Instructional vice president for the Osceola Education Association. "They’ve come back with this one-time lump sum that totally ignores the point of we need something that is going to help people for many years to come.”

She said the problem isn’t the amount but rather they will be only offering this payment one time.

“If it were not one time, we would be having a different conversation right now. The fact that it is one time makes it feel so much like a slap in the face because it completely ignores the whole problem of the economy has permanently changed. We permanently have put educators at a disadvantage and we are just not going to address that," added Gorentz.

While there’s a wage dispute, there’s also a teacher shortage. According to the president of the Florida Education Association, there are nearly 10,000 total vacancies in the state between teachers and staff. He said there are nearly 5,300 teacher vacancies in the state right now. That is a 21% increase from this time last year.

In Osceola County, officials told Spectrum News 13 they have 177 instructional vacancies.

Gorentz, who is also a teacher in Osceola County, explained at her school alone they lost three people this week.

According to Gorentz, the bargaining team from the Osceola County Education Association for instructional staff and the district will not be heading back to the bargaining table until next month, but they are looking to bring up concerns at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Osceola County School Board Member Jon Arguello sent Spectrum News 13 the following statement about the teacher shortage and the "Cost of Living Adjustment" request from the Osceola County Education Association:

"I hold fast to the idea that teachers should start at $70k per year. This is not a bargaining statement, it’s an educational philosophy. We need to go back to the educational model where our kids are being educated to lead communities and that begins with hiring leader-educators, having the highest expectations, and paying them according to their value in the community.

The teacher shortage is real, and there are real reasons it exists. Some are beyond our control and some are not. Our job is to do everything within our control, and in that respect we have failed to rise to the occasion. Our District has been reactive to the degree making the required changes generates shock. In order to stop the exodus of teachers, the wave of teachers voicing resentment and frustration, and restart the efficient and effective delivery of education, we have to rewrite the model of education. Our school board majority and superintendent can’t keep looking up to the sky for a miracle to fall down while standing in the way of progress which begins with pay.

Substitutes are a necessity but not a long term plan or fix. Long term subs with degrees and expertise that the district intends to get certified are great, but high school graduates looking to avoid working in fast food is not a legitimate response to a labor shortage."

In Osceola County, there are openings to be a substitute and the minimum requirement is a high school diploma. Full-time teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree and educator certification.