Hundreds of Brevard Public School teachers leaving before new school year starts

FOX 35 Orlando | By Esther Bower | July 26, 2023

VIERA, Fla. – Hundreds of Brevard Public School teachers are calling it quits with the new school year weeks away. Over the past several months, the district recorded over 200 resignations and retirements with some leaving sooner than they intended.

“I don’t feel valued and respected,” said Lisa Rickett who’s a 26-year veteran BPS teacher who decided she wouldn’t return to the classroom in August. “The morale has basically been kind of spiraling down. I feel like there are a lot of big issues that need to be addressed, and we’re getting caught up on some of the minutiae.”

She said big issues like burnout, lack of support and not feeling heard by the administration forced her to retire early. “It just became too much, too much stress weighing on me to continue to do it,” Rickett added who taught middle schoolers at DeLaura.

The math teacher isn’t alone. A new report, published in the school board meeting agenda, shows 200-plus resignations or retirements in the district over the past several months.

“We still do have openings, and we’re currently recruiting, and we will not have necessarily everybody hired by August 10 that we need or that we want,” said Russell Bruhn a spokesperson for Brevard Public Schools. He said they have hired 316 teachers this summer and a new superintendent is focused on supporting staff moving forward.

“He wanted to make education looked at as a noble profession again, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Bruhn said.

Brevard County isn’t the only district dealing with this issue. Statewide, there’s been a surge in teacher vacancies with thousands piling up year after year. The Florida Education Association tracks vacancies twice per year. Their mid-year January reports show over 1,400 vacancies across the state in 2018. The number grew to over 2,300 in 2021. At the last count in January, there were over 5,200 teacher openings.

“We can help solve some of these problems,” Rickett added. “We’re in the trenches so to speak, and so we know what kind of things are issues, and we have solutions.”

While Rickett said she couldn’t stick it out any longer, she wants districts to listen to teachers. She said they have ideas to combat burnout and overwork so more will choose to stay in the classroom.

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