Tuesday July 12, 2022

AREA SCHOOLS NEED TEACHERS AND STAFF

The new school year starts in only four weeks, and our surroundings counties, like so much of Florida, is dealing with a massive teacher shortage.

In Lee County, there are 285 open teaching positions on top of a severe bus driver shortage. This January, state education officials reported more than 9,500 vacancies in schools across the state. More than 4,300 were identified as teaching jobs, the remaining 5,222 were non-instructional positions like teachers’ aides, bus drivers and custodians.

According to FEA data, more than an estimated 450,000 Florida students may have started last school year without full-time certified teachers due to the number of teacher vacancies.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union. Stated that they are in  crisis mode,”

Besides Lee County’s 285 vacancies, Charlotte County has 196 open positions. 56 are classroom teachers. They hired a little more than 200 new teachers for this upcoming school year. Collier County currently has 156 instructional, 78 non-instructional and 25 bus driver vacancies. Hendry County has 103 open positions, with 57 of them being classroom teachers.

State education leaders say one of the main issues leading to this shortage is the pay educators receive in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis did include $800 million for teacher pay raises in the 2022-2023 budget, an increase of $250 million from last year.

Leaders with the School District of Lee County are still actively recruiting to fill their positions stating “they have a plan in place to make sure every classroom has a certified teacher to lead instruction on the first day of school.” 

As well as raising the starting pay to attract drivers to $17.50 an hour. Which is the 3rd highest in the state of Florida for public school bus drivers.

Lee County school Districts next recruitment event is today, Tuesday, July 12. It’s a virtual connection where anyone interested in teaching or support staff positions can meet with principals looking to hire. Go to www.Leeschool.net

SPORTS TRAINING COMPLEX PROPOSED IN WELLINGTON

A proposed project to turn Wellington Community Park into a sports training complex appears to be gaining support.

Jon Bostic, an NFL player and Wellington resident who attended Palm Beach Central High School and the University of Florida is leading a group hoping to make it happen.

The plans call for revamping the existing fields, along with building an indoor facility that will house youth sports academies and training facilities for professional athletes.

Village Manager Jim Barnes says the complex will also be open to Wellington residents.

The plan faces a number of approvals in Wellington, which could be completed by fall.

WOMEN KILLED IN ALVA

An argument at an Alva home Sunday erupted into a shootout, fatally wounding a woman in a parked car and leading to homicide charges for a Lehigh Acres man.

Kodie Shane Richardson, 25, is facing second-degree felony murder charges, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of armed occupied burglary.

Information from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said Richardson drove to a home on Palm Beach Boulevard and became embroiled in an argument with several residents.

A Sheriff’s Office report said Richardson stole a firearm from inside the home and an exchange of gunshots ensued between the Lehigh Acres man and the home’s residents.

A female passenger, Amanda Edwards, listed as an innocent party by the Sheriff’s Office, sitting in Richardson’s car outside the home, was fatally struck by gunfire.

Richardson took the dead woman to a friend’s home on Packinghouse Road and the Sheriff’s Office was notified. Richardson and others involved at the Palm Beach Boulevard address were taken into custody.

Sheriff’s Office detectives booked Richardson Monday morning.