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Local school districts in need of substitute teachers; using federal funds to offer more pay

Substitute Teacher
Posted at 3:48 PM, Jan 06, 2022

CLEVELAND — School districts are constantly reworking how to teach students safely during the pandemic. Leaders across the country say in order to keep schools open, they need staff and substitutes both of which are hard to find right now.

Inside the Lorain County Educational Service Center, the focus is on getting help to local school districts. Finding as many substitutes as fast as possible.

"The pool just isn't as big as it used to be," said Franco Gallo, the superintendent at the center. Districts have been crying out for help since the pandemic started nearly two years ago. On Thursday, there was supposed to be a job fair for substitutes at the center but when only 10 people signed up it was canceled.

In the past, dozens of people went to the center for the fair, Gallo said.

It's a tough break for districts who are upping pay, benefits and making access to licenses easier so that substitute teaching attracts more people.

People like Stephanie DeVries. She was at the center signing up to get back into subbing after nearly 20 years away.

"I don't want the schools to close because we don't have teachers; they're getting sick," she said. "So, if I can help out in that way then it helps me as a parent and them as teachers."

Districts want more people like DeVries because when they're short teachers, classes combine, resources are stretched thin, and some things get skipped.

"Some days, we have as many as 15 teachers that are uncovered—on a really high day," said Jack Dibee, the assistant superintendent at Avon Lake School District. "It's a hodgepodge of whatever we can do to get students in school every day."

Dibee's district is using incentives to get more substitutes. Leaders approved an increase for daily pay from $90 to $120. And that rate, according to Dibee, substitutes will stick around.

"I think it's a reasonable salary for what we ask people to come in and do for a day," he said.

Districts in Ohio got millions of dollars in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan. Avon Lake is using some of their federal dollars to increase substitute pay. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona went on social media and encouraged districts to do just that, use the ARPA money to get teachers in classrooms.

If you have a bachelor's degree, you can apply to be a substitute. CLICK HERE for more information on how to become a substitute teacher. After SB1 passed in Columbus, it opened up a temporary one year substitute license to anyone who wanted to sub but does not have a post-secondary degree.