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Albion considers how to fill shortages with substitute teachers, aides

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 October 2019 at 12:01 pm

ALBION – The school district has shortage of substitute teachers and substitute teachers’ aides, an issue that is prevalent throughout the region, said Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent.

The Board of Education wants to see the extent of the problem of Albion, and asked Bonnewell to put together a report for how often substitutes are unavailable as teachers and aides.

Bonnewell said a tight labor market with a low unemployment has made it challenging for districts to have enough substitutes.

“The reality is there are not enough people signing up to be substitutes,” Bonnewell said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. “People are employed so they’re not waiting for their phone to ring for a job.”

The issue was raised at Monday’s board meeting when the board followed the Albion Teachers Association in agreeing to modify the ATA contract with the district. The change will allow teachers to put off contractual prep time during the school day to fill in where a substitute teacher or aide is needed. The teachers will be paid $25 per hour when they give up the prep time during the school day.

Albion has boosted the sub pay in recent years. The district has raised the hourly pay for teacher aides from $10.40 an hour in 2017-18, to $11.10 an hour last school year to $11.80 in 2019-20, partly to reflect rising minimum wage rates.

Certified substitutes are paid $100 a day this year, the same as in 2018-19. The year before that, certified subs were paid $95. Noncertified substitutes are paid $5 less per day.

Kathy Harling, the Board of Education president, said the district should consider adding more teachers’ aides.

Bonnewell said a full-time aide cost about $50,000 with benefits, salary and retirement, and that would only fill one aide. He said there are usually three or four substitute teacher aides needed each school day.

In addition to the report about percentage of unfilled classes that need substitutes, the board wants to see the attendance overall rates for teachers and teachers’ aides. Higher attendance from staff would also reduce the need for substitutes, board members said.

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