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Better pay and flexibility helping Lorain Co. school districts lessen substitute teacher shortage

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Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 18:13:59-04

LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — After the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant decline in the number of substitute teachers statewide, Lorain County education officials believe they’re making headway thanks to substantial increases to the rates offered to substitutes.

Dozens of people interested in becoming a substitute teacher filed into the Educational Service Center of Lorain County on Wednesday as part of a job fair specifically tailored toward substitute teachers. The job fair allowed applicants to meet face-to-face with recruiters representing numerous school districts, including Avon Lake, Firelands, Lorain and Sheffield/Sheffield Lake, among others.

The ESC of Lorain County provides everything from substitute teachers, professional development, networking and other administrative duties for several school districts scattered across the county.

Franco Gallo, the superintendent of the ESC of Lorain County, said education officials aren’t looking to recruit a certain number of substitute teachers but, instead, are looking to onboard as many substitutes as possible.

“We have lost a lot of the cushion that we had,” Gallo said. “We don’t necessarily have a number but the more we get, the better. Right now, we feel like we’re back to normal. We want to encourage those folks who used to come and [substitute teach] with us to come back.”

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Gallo said a significant number of retired educators, which rank among one of the largest contingents of substitute teachers, stopped offering their services as a result of the pandemic because of the potential risks associated with it. According to the Ohio Dept. of Education, there were roughly 13,000 substitute teachers as of 2019. By 2021, that number had been reduced to just over 5,000.

However, with the vaccine widely available, many of those former teachers have begun coming back, Gallo said.

Additionally, several school districts have dramatically increased their daily rates offered to substitute teachers, including some in Lorain County that are now offering $200 per day.

“Typically, in the past, our sub rates were $90 to $120. Now, they are $120 to $200. The pay increases have made a difference,” Gallo said. “With society kind of gravitating toward flexibility with their work, this is a great job with that flexibility because they can work as much or as little as they want.”

In addition to recruiting former educators, the substitute teacher hiring fair on Wednesday also attracted newcomers like Valerie Howard.

“During COVID, my job was dismissed. This is my first time [substitute teaching]. I have never subbed before but I’ve heard that it’s flexible,” Howard said. “I love helping young people so what better way to work with a variety of them other than substituting… to have the opportunity to work with all different kids and different backgrounds from different demographics. One thing that I feel that all kids need is TLC. No matter how much parents make, no matter how much they don’t make, no matter the color of your skin, every young person wants to know that they are cared for.”

The substitute teaching requirements for the ESC of Lorain County include a Bachelor’s degree in any field, a clean background check, three positive references and at least some experience working with school-aged children.

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Gallo hopes to also recruit individuals with a passion for serving their communities and making a difference in the lives of children.

“With COVID hitting and learning loss taking place, it’s even more important that we have somebody that is qualified in the classroom,” Gallo said. “If we don’t have substitute teachers in the classroom, they end up combining classes. They could end up sitting in a study hall. That’s not going to help the learning loss issue.”

If you’re interested in becoming a substitute teacher but missed Wednesday’s hiring event, you are encouraged to go to the ESC’s web site or call 440-324-5777 for more information.