Amarillo Independent School District is in need of substitute teachers.
“There’s not an abundance of substitutes. … I am eight short today; I am always short on substitutes,” Cindy Moseley, school secretary at Amarillo High School, said recently.
Due to the lack of substitute teachers, Moseley has had to adjust her substitute plans daily, if not multiple times a day, to cover all the classes at AHS.
Currently, according to Moseley, due to the shortage of substitute teachers, she often has to assign the substitutes to several classes a day, outside of what they request. Moseley said that the subs are compensated an additional $11 for the day, if they are assigned to cover eight periods that day with AHS.
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Due to this rising need, the district, according to Paige TeBeest, coordinator of auxiliary personnel for AISD, has placed incentives to draw in more substitute teachers. Since then, she has seen a rise in applicants.
The incentives include a pay raise, yearly bonus, and a substitute of the month promotion.
“I think that’s great and a good opportunity for people that don’t want to work full time, because they can pick the days that they want, they can pick the schools, the grade level. … We really need subs, and I would look forward to having them as often as we can,” Moseley said.
According to TeBeest, last year, a substitute teacher without a degree was making $82 a day while a substitute with a degree made $87. Since the pay increase, a substitute teacher without a degree makes $132 a day and a substitute with a degree $137 a day. This reflects a 61% pay increase.
“This year once we put the pay increase into place, the numbers have steadily gone up as far as people applying, people getting hired, people picking up jobs. … Even our fill rate today is a 92.8% improvement over last year’s. Last year, we started out in the 70th percentile,” TeBeest said.
Other incentives for AISD sub applications are yearly bonuses.
Over the next three years, including this school year, if a substitute teacher works with AISD for 100 days within the school year, they will receive a $500 bonus at the end of the year. If they come back next year and work 100 days, they will receive another $500 bonus. On the third year that the substitute teacher comes back and works 100 days with AISD, they will earn a $1,000 bonus at the end of the year.
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AISD is also promoting a “Substitute of the Month” award as part of the incentives. The individual selected will be promoted across all of AISD, including its Facebook pages and social media, and will be gifted items donated to AISD from such businesses as Jimmy John’s, Roasters, Education Credit Union, and others.
“The sub of the month, they receive one of these donated items, along with a certificate, as well as the promotion of what a good job they are doing throughout the entire district, and throughout the community through social media,” TeBeest said.
According to TeBeest, there were 550 substitute teachers in the system at the beginning of the school year to cover all of AISD, but since the promotion of the incentives, they now have 639 subs as of Sept. 29.
“We always need lots of substitutes. A lot of our subs are college students or retired people who come to work part time. … Even if we get over 700 (subs), we still be hiring just because we want to make sure that we get to 100% fill rate, if possible,” TeBeest said.
According to TeBeest, the drop in substitute teachers happened around the beginning of last year.
“There were lots of subs that decided that they wanted to wait to come back, until we knew more about the pandemic,” she said.
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AISD provides voluntary training over the school year for its substitute teachers, including Classroom Management Instructional Strategy, ESL and Special Education, Technology, and Safety. All training is offered in both the spring and fall semesters of the school year.
TeBeest anticipates that if the trend in application rates continues that AISD will have no trouble providing subs during the upcoming flu season.
Applicants can apply for the non-degree temporary substitute position, or the district-wide substitute application for anyone with 45 college hours or more.
“We want all of our students to be successful, that is our number one priority, and in order for them to be successful, when their teacher is not there, we have to have someone in the classroom that is going to go in and teach our students, based on the lesson plans left by the teacher. They need to be able to go in there and continue the education, so the students are learning and not missing important information until their teacher comes back,” TeBeest said.