Hiring Freeze Leaves Math Class with Substitute

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-In-Chief

Their schedules say Trina Rodriguez, but the students in Room 248 periods 4-6 have yet to get a permanent teacher.

Since the start of school, they have had substitutes, since the school is currently prohibited from hiring a permanent teacher.

For the first week and a half their permanent substitute was Allan Dodsworth. He did not have a math background.

“Ask me questions about history or geography,” he told the classes. “I can’t help you with math.”

“[I don’t have] a plan, just to watch them. I’ve got three classes like this,” said Dodsworth. “The people in the office just give me attendance.”

On Wednesday, Dodsworth was replaced by a new substitute, Elijah Leonard.

Although Leonard is a familiar face on campus from subbing frequently last year, he also has no math experience- he says the last time he did math was before he graduated college.

“I am going to look up math videos to figure out what to do,” said Leonard. “Maybe that math website, Khan Academy.”

The problem started over summer, when math teacher Nadia Blake decided to leave Robinson for Brandon High School, which was closer to her house. When math teacher Pamela Allison left as well, that left two holes in the department.

“We are interviewing [teachers] for it. Right now, there is a freeze on hiring in the district, people are balancing numbers,” said Principal Johnny Bush. “Say if Plant doesn’t need all their math teachers because their numbers don’t justify it, the low man on the totem pole goes into [a] pool. When that person goes into the pool, then they get to pick that school they want. “

When students walked into class August 19, the spot was still open.

For the students in the honors-level course, it’s frustrating. It’s been over a week since school started, and a “real” teacher has yet to arrive.

The problem is not exclusive to Robinson. According to a list of district vacancies, there are currently 42 high school vacancies in Hillsborough County, all that cannot be filled with a permanent teacher until after the freeze. Including Robinson, five of those positions involve high school math.

Sophomore Alexa Keeler has had it happen before.

“Every year since sixth grade I haven’t had a math teacher. We always get one, it’s just later in the year,” she said.

Bush says it is possible a teacher from the pool takes the position, or they may hire a teacher. He hopes to have this happen by next Friday, however, he cannot hire anyone for more than a one month temporary position until the district lifts the freeze.

Bush said until then the substitute, picked by a new substitute system called Kelly, would be in charge of the class. The system, he said, should ensure all substitutes are qualified educators.

Back in Room 248, the student’s don’t know or care about a hiring freeze or district regulations. To them, no teacher is no teacher, and come April, when they take the Algebra Two EOC, all that will matter is that they know the material.

“We’re not learning in here. I understand the substitutes are trying but it’s not working,” said sophomore McKenna Tyson. “For almost a week we didn’t have work in our Springboard book we just sat there doing work in other classes. I think [the hiring freeze] is ridiculous.”