Prepared Text for Board Meeting – August 13, 2007 (Substitutes)

Marc A. Schare,

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Today, we consider again the pay increase for substitute teachers. This issue was first on the agenda three weeks ago and pulled from the agenda to give the administration some time to pull together supporting documentation to justify the pay increase. The data that the district subsequently provided raised more questions than it answered. The proposal this evening represents a compromise and I will be supporting that compromise while pleading for the district to get a handle on the financial and programmatic impacts of the use of substitute teachers in our schools.


We do not know the financial impact of the pay raise. Indeed, it is difficult to even hazard a guess because the data to support the “actual” cost of substitutes in the district is not readily available. A very rough, probably wrong estimate is around $50,000. It is my hope that the district does a better job at tracking the financial impact of substitute teachers. It should be noted that our five year forecast does include an increase for substitute pay and while the exact amount of this increase is unknowable, I’m confident it will be less than what is in the forecast.


Part of the proposal is to replace some pool substitutes with daily substitutes. While originally, this was designed to make the entire package cost neutral, some of us had concerns that we were trading substitute quality for cost neutrality. This compromise is actually a little more expensive than the administration’s original proposal. It is my hope that the district make an attempt to measure whether there are differences in quality between long term substitutes, pool substitutes and daily substitutes so can make an appropriate data-driven decision next year.


The bigger issue in my opinion is why we need so many substitutes in the first place. According to information provided by the district, we used 10660 substitute-days last year. It should be noted that despite the National, State and Local shortage of substitutes alluded to in the agenda, only 186 classes went uncovered, however, the administration is adamant that without the pay raise, this number could skyrocket and there is simply insufficient data to know for sure. Of the 10660 days, roughly 55% were illness related, 23% were related to teacher conferences and professional development and 15% were nebulously labeled as “unrestricted”. It seems intuitive that the use of any substitute at any time is disruptive to the educational process so the obvious question that needs to be asked is whether anything can be done or should be done to reduce the 38% of substitute-days that are not related to illness and whether this is something worth pursuing.


Lacking data, it would be irresponsible in my opinion to vote against an administrative request for this pay increase, but to reiterate,  it is my hope that the district take some time to study the programmatic and financial impact of substitute teachers in the district and not forget the issue once the pay raise is granted.