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Schools cut ties with ESS to increase substitute pay
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Substitute teachers are in high demand and short supply, a situation Warren County School System hopes to rectify with an increase in pay for the 2022-23 year.

Warren County School Board members unanimously voted Monday night to terminate the school system’s contract with ESS, Educational Staffing Services. The substitute vendor service was hired in 2020 and given a three-year contract.

The recommendation to terminate came from Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows.

“You are aware that we currently outsource our substitute teacher work with ESS,” Swallows said. “One of the issues we’ve had is lack of subs that are available.”

Per its contract, ESS is paid $77 per day per substitute teacher. ESS retains $17 and substitutes are paid $60.

Removal of the middle man, says Swallows, will allow the school system to provide substitutes a boost in salary at no additional expense.

“I can tell you after researching several counties in the Upper Cumberland lots of different places, we are lagging behind in what we pay our substitute teachers,” said Swallows.

One full-time employee will be hired to manage substitute teachers, while subs could receive up to $75 per day.

“We would not go all the way up to $77 because we have to hire an employee to administrate the program,” said Swallows, when asked if substitute teachers would receive the entire amount. “Ultimately, we are looking in the range of $73 to $75 currently. That is still a fairly substantial increase to what are subs are making.”

ESS will be notified of the Warren County School Board’s decision to terminate its contract early.