In Warren County, there are 11 schools in the system responsible for educating around 6,500 students annually. When a teacher is unable to work, a substitute teacher is needed.
The current substitute teacher pool is 127. Audrey Morgan, who works for Kelly Educational Staffing which oversees local substitute teachers, said they can always use more subs.
“This year, it has been a give and take,” said Morgan. “I’ll hire two and lose one and then the next week I may not hire any and lose three. The economy has picked up so there are some jobs that are better paying than substitutes. Substitute teachers actually make less than a janitor, cafeteria worker… than anyone else. They are the lowest paid in the scale.”
A substitute teacher is paid around $50 a day, typically working from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with responsibilities varying based on the assignment. However, there are many factors that influence a sub’s salary. Substitute teachers are only needed when the full-time teacher is out so there are days when there is no work.
Like Morgan, Warren County High School executive principal Jimmy Walker attributes the good economy to the lack of subs.
“When the economy is going good, these people find better-paying jobs,” said Walker. “It is really hard to cover when you have a shortage. We ask people to cover and double up and they do a good job and never complain.”
Even with the all the recruiting efforts and incentives offered by Kelly Educational Staffing, Morgan said the last two years have been a struggle. She believes increasing the pay would be a huge help in the retention of substitutes.
Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox said that since he has been on the Warren County Board of Education, there has not been a pay increase for substitute teachers.
“We continue to discuss a pay raise for our subs,” said Cox. “We have not changed our rate. I’ve been very open and honest with them that it’s really a budgeting thing. If there is a way, we can look increasing maybe $5 a day, that’s something.”
School Board member Bill Zechman added, “The translation of that is that we view substitute teaching as an unfortunate accident. It’s not something we plan for, it’s just something we’ve got to do and we are not paying much attention to it. It comes back to a policy decision, which comes back to money, which we don’t have.”
At last Thursday’s School Board meeting, members discussed several options about ways to increase substitute teacher pay, but nothing appears very definitive at this point.