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Tampa Bay School Districts Face Staff Shortages

Personnel shortages aren’t just in the classroom this school year — they’re seen before and after the bell rings too.

Schools in the greater Tampa Bay region are among the many struggling to find people to staff their departments.

They’re in need of custodians, bus drivers, substitute teachers and other instructional positions.

It's due mainly to a combination of the nationwide labor shortage as well as COVID-19 related staff quarantines.


Hillsborough County Schools is facing vacancies in several areas:

  • 176 total instructional vacancies
  • 100 bus drivers for permanent bus routes
  • 30 or more substitute drivers
  • over 50 vacancies in the Student Nutrition Services department

“The bus driver shortage is having a significant impact on our district,” said Hillsborough County Schools Chief of Communications Tanya Arja. “Many of our drivers are doing double runs to get students to school.”

Shortages in the Student Nutrition Services department are also requiring extra help in school cafeterias.

“We have had to employ district help in our cafeterias to ensure students are served breakfast and lunch,” said Arja.

People interested in applying can click here.


  • 53 classroom teachers
  • 64 bus drivers
  • approximately 75 food and nutrition staff 

With 400 routes and 336 current drivers, Pinellas County Schools is filling these vacancies temporarily with former bus drivers, while other drivers are picking up extra routes, according to Pinellas County School Public Information Officer Isabel Mascareñas.


  • 40 bus drivers 
  • 39 custodians

Manatee County Schools is holding a hiring event Thursday to fill these positions, and will distribute offers to candidates who qualify at the event.


  • 83 instructional positions
  • 53 bus driver positions
  • 37 custodian positions

The open instructional positions also include occupational therapists and speech language pathologists.

Allison Foster, the Executive Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations for Sarasota County Schools, said one way the district is trying to alleviate instructional shortages is by reaching out to parents.

“So we put something recently out to parents to say, if you are available, even if it's one or two days a week, and you're interested in being a substitute, and potentially even subbing at your child's school, we would love to have you,” said Foster.

They’ve also been working with Florida’s state universities to recruit fresh graduates into full-time teaching jobs.

Job descriptions for Sarasota County Schools can be found here.


According to Public Information Officer for Pasco County Schools Stephen Hegarty, the district is seeing the following:

  • Instructional staff shortages - 155
  • Non-instructional staff shortages  - 248 
  • Bus driver shortages - 100

“The non-instructional numbers include custodians, food service workers, etc. It also includes some classroom aides that were funded just for this year,” Hegarty said. “So, it’s not like we’re behind where we were last year with that group.”

The News Service of Florida reported that the district has launched new initiatives to support its transportation department, which includes an auxiliary call center.

“We have started a mini one (call center) that involves district office secretaries who are answering the phones for the garages, because we have anyone who can drive a bus, driving a bus right now. It’s all hands on deck with the transportation department,” said Elizabeth Kuhn, the district’s assistant superintendent for support services.


  • 38 open instructional positions 
  • 35 bus drivers

Those interested in applying can click here.

A request for comment from Polk County Schools was not immediately returned.

Jorgelina Manna-Rea is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second straight semester with WUSF.
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