A nationwide teacher shortage has caused a ripple effect into
another area of education
– substitute teaching.
And to help combat the growing concern of absent teachers, the
San Benito High School District has a full-time substitute teacher
A nationwide teacher shortage has caused a ripple effect into another area of education – substitute teaching.
And to help combat the growing concern of absent teachers, the San Benito High School District has a full-time substitute teacher on board.
“This person’s job is to be in classrooms,” said Evelyn Muro, the district’s personnel director. “This is a person who knows the school and who the school knows.”
The gap opened after people who would usually work as substitutes began filling permanent positions. Also, a slow economy has made it difficult for school districts to find qualified people to fill in for absent teachers.
The shortage propelled the district to hire a full-time teacher two years ago whose job is to substitute in classes throughout the campus.
County Superintendent of Schools Tim Foley said such as position was not uncommon for larger school districts.
According to SBHS Superintendent Richard Lowry, very few days go by where the high school does not need to utilize a substitute teacher. And there are times when teachers on preparatory periods have had to cover a class at the last minute. Muro said she remembered a day when 22 teachers were absent.
“We prefer substitutes, but when that fails, we have teacher volunteers who substitute and get paid extra,” Muro said.
Lowry said that having SBHS teachers substitute can be more beneficial than having someone outside the district.
“The most effective instruction is that done by the regular instructor,” he said. “But, having another teacher on staff substitute can be good since they know our policies.”
The situation can be more precarious at the Hollister School District, where more than half the county’s 11,000 students are enrolled. The district employs more than 350 teachers and requires between 30 and 40 substitutes a day, according to Bill Jordan, HSD director of human resources.
Jordan said he has experienced the substitute shortage for a few years. He said the shortage stems from the state’s class-size reduction program.
When this was instituted, more teachers were needed, decreasing the numbers of substitutes available. But, this may not be the case for much longer.
“Depending on how the budget goes this year, we may have an ample number of substitutes next year,” Jordan said, anticipating staff layoffs to deal with state budget cuts for the next 18 months.
The shortage of available substitutes in the county may also be a product of the isolated area. Because the county is considered rural, substitutes have to live in the area or commute from Gilroy or Salinas, Muro said. Many who decide to substitute teach are retired educators, laid-off high-tech industry workers and stay-at-home parents. The profession offers flexibility and income between jobs, Foley said.
To attract and recruit substitutes, Jordan and Muro advertise the positions in papers and trade publications. Vacancies come from illnesses, family emergencies, maternity leave, bereavement, coaches who have to leave for athletic events and workshop attendance.
“We’ve even had people caught in traffic (whose classes have to be taken care of),” Lowry said.