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Substitute teachers in short supply

Districts are raising pay and offering incentives but some say that may not be enough to overcome a reduction in the pool of available substitutes due to COVID fears.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Some local school districts are having significant trouble finding enough substitute teachers to cover their classrooms and it has led some to offer pay raises and incentives to try and alleviate the problem.

The Avon Lake school district recently raised the daily pay for substitute teachers from $90 to $120 but that may not be enough to bring in the number of substitute teachers the district needs according to superintendent Robert Scott.

“We felt like the raise in pay was important but we don’t know how well that will affect this because that doesn’t manufacture a person to actually be there if you need them regardless of the pay,” he said.

Scott said the real issue is that there just is not a big enough pool of substitute teachers available at this point.

Steve Thompson, the superintendent of the Willoughby-Eastlake Schools agrees.

“Covid is the underlying problem, people are afraid to be in classrooms with 20 to 25 students,” Thompson said.

The large majority of the substitute pool is retired teachers, Thompson explained, and there is real reluctance on the part of many of those retirees to go back in the classroom due to the pandemic.

Thompson said his district is scrambling on a near-daily basis to cover all the classrooms.

“Teachers are taking their planning periods and filling in and we are hodgepodging it together,” he said, “It also creates a problem for the principals who are running around half the day trying to keep people in the right spot and make sure our classes are supervised and being taught.”

The Willoughby-Eastlake schools also increased the daily pay for subs, to $125, and are offering 1st-year teacher contracts to long-term subs after 30 days.

“We’re doing everything to incentivize people to do it but there just is not the people to fill the positions,” he said.

The long-term issue becomes the threat of burnout as teachers, already with plenty on their plate dealing with COVID, are asked to pick up the slack due to the lack of substitutes.

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