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School Districts Have More Options for Substitute Teachers

Some districts are only interviewing certified teachers as many young teachers aren't able to find jobs.

Tony Bertram, 28, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Southeast Missouri State University in 2005. 

Because employment prospects were dim, he started substitute teaching in 2006 –and he continues to do so today.

Substitute teaching is an attractive option for people who have recently lost their job or for people who are just entering the job market.  

In the current economy, districts are seeing more people applying to be substitutes. Districts are drawing on diverse group of people from many walks of life. 

The plethora of candidates has allowed some districts to be selective about who they interview or choose not to accept applications at all. 

“As of now, we’re (Fort Zumwalt) only interviewing certified teachers,”  Patti Corum, deputy superintendent for personnel services at the Fort Zumwalt School District.

Fort Zumwalt, the largest school district in the county, has about 500 substitutes in its pool. The district pays $80 a day and $12.31 hourly for short substitute stints.

More than 1,500 have applied in the last year, she said.   Retired teachers who substitute also receive some medical benefits.

Pool is growing

“Our individual pool is growing,” said Steve Griggs, chief human resources officer at the Francis Howell School District. “It’s not an economy where it’s been a struggle to fill substitute positions.

Francis Howell has about 400 substitutes who are paid $85 a day and going up to $95 a day for assignments of 10 days or more.  Paraprofessional substitutes receive $95 and retired district teachers $100 for substituting.

Orchard Farm, the smallest school district in St. Charles County, has 45 to 50 substitutes who are paid $80 a day.

The has 289 substitutes in their pool, who are paid $94 a day, said Shirley Landers, the district’s sub-finder coordinator. The district has two full-time substitute positions – one at each high school. Landers said about half the subs in the district are fully certified teachers- many who are young teachers who simply couldn’t find work.

'Some people are naturals'

Landers doesn’t favor limiting openings to retired or certified teachers. “To me, that goes against what the state law, which says substitutes have to have 60 hours of college credit,” Landers said.

More importantly, schools and students can benefit from substitutes who have had other careers. “They are all different kinds of people,” Landers said. “There are Boeing engineers and commercial artists, our students can benefit from their life experience.”

And Landers said some substitutes opt to become teachers. “There are some people who are naturals,” she said.

While Bertram was subbing he discovered he liked teaching. He’s seeking his master’s degree and a teacher certificate through Lindenwood University and begins student teaching this spring.

“While the pay for subbing is not spectacular, it has allowed me to figure what it is I’m doing, where I’m going and how I’m getting there,” Bertram said.

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