By Joel Waldman

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It has been a brutal year and a half for educators and students alike and now South Florida is facing another major education problem: A teacher and staff shortage.

Statistics on the staff shortage problem are startling. According to the Florida Education Association, the Sunshine State is close to 5,000 teachers short for this school year.

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“Eventually, we’re not going to have teachers in the classroom. We’ll have substitute teachers instead of certified teachers,” said Liliana Ruido with Broward Teachers Union.

And a shortage of teachers is not the only problem, nearly 4,000 support staff, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodians are needed, too.

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The union leaders say if you follow the money it will fill you in about why is the shortage.

“A first-year teacher making the same dollar amount as a 15-year teacher,” said Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union.

Florida teacher pay ranked among worst in the nation and pays on average about $49,000 per year and the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t helping any.

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Miami Dade Public Schools issued this statement saying, “We arre working diligently to ensure that we’re properly staff for the opening of schools. Instructional needs fall primarily in the areas of exceptional student education, also known as special education, high school math and science,ing english language arts as well as mental health and guidance counseling. It is sure to be a challenging year for educators here in South Florida.