HANCOCK COUNTY — An increase in teacher absence and the resulting need for substitutes are real issues county schools must deal with throughout the course of a school year. Officials in the Greenfield-Central School District have decided to increase their substitute teacher pay considerably this year in an effort to make sure they have enough subs to keep the doors open and kids in the classrooms.
Those who have substituted for the district in the past told the Daily Reporter the increase in substitute teacher pay has jumped some $40 in the past year. Superintendent Harold Olin noted they have upped their pay to $120 per day effective Jan. 9.
“We would like to grow our substitute pool,” Olin said. “We definitely have days in which we do not have enough substitute teachers to fill our vacancies.”
When that happens, district officials have to end up pulling other faculty and staff members from their regular duties to cover classrooms.
“Our substitute teacher pool is definitely more shallow than it was prior to March of 2020 (start of the pandemic),” Olin said. “Conversely, staff absenteeism is greater than it was prior to March of 2020.”
Olin noted they have more unfilled teacher vacancies throughout the year than they are accustomed to having in their schools, and they’re not alone.
Officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County noted in their recent community news letter all their schools have an “urgent” need for substitute teachers and instructional assistants.
“If you have free time during the day, even just one or two days a week, please consider joining our team,” communications director Wes Anderson said in the newsletter.
Anderson noted district officials just upped their pay from $95 a day to $100 a day for certified subs and was somewhat concerned at the pay put forth in other districts throughout the county as all are competing for qualified people who have the time to help out.
“We’ve already raised our sub pay to $100 this year, so we’re doing everything we can to generate interest and to retain those folks we currently have,” Anderson said.
Mt. Vernon School District has avoided much of the sub-searching issue thanks to working with a service that helps them get subs. Communications Director Maria Bond noted at the start of the school year they started working with an outside hiring organization.
“We contract with Kelly Education Services to provide our substitute teachers and substitute instructional assistants,” Bond said in an email to the Daily Reporter.
They also increased their substitute teacher pay at the beginning of this school year to $120. They’ve also been offering substitutes a free lunch for about a year.
“With COVID slowing down and the increase in substitute pay, Mt. Vernon’s fill rate went back to historic trends at approximately 70-85% throughout the district … So we do have some requests unfilled.”
However, those rates are comparable to where they were before the pandemic. They also have permanent substitute positions (employees) in each of their elementary and secondary buildings. They have three of those positions at Mt. Vernon High School and two positions at all elementary buildings and the middle school.
“These employees help tremendously with the gaps of any substitute shortages,” Bond said.
Officials with Eastern Hancock pay certified substitutes $100 and non-certified subs $90 per day, superintendent George Philhower said. It’s the price they set in the fall and have budgeted for the remainder of the year.
“We’re always looking for subs because that list can never be long enough, but we’re good for now,” Philhower said. “As of this moment, we’re in pretty good shape, but we know that could change at any minute.”