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Case Study

How Raymore-Peculiar School District is Making Substitute Teaching More Attractive

Dr. Lisa Hatfield, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, describes how the district offers flexible pay to help recruit substitutes through Wagestream and Frontline’s Absence Management.

Raymore-Peculiar School District Hero Image

District Background

  • Location

    Peculiar, Missouri

  • K-12 Enrollment


  • Full-Time Employees


  • Substitute Teachers


  • Product & Solutions

Needed: Substitute Teachers

Dr. Lisa Hatfield is trying to incentivize substitute teachers to work in Raymore-Peculiar School District. As Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, she is in good company among district HR leaders who are grappling with a scarcity of teachers and substitutes alike, especially since the pandemic.

“Our goal with anything we do is to increase the fill rate,” Dr. Hatfield says. “When we do not have subs in positions, it’s hard on our current staff. Counselors and librarians and behavior interventionists and people that aren’t normally in the classroom are having to step in because we don’t have the substitutes, and that’s just a morale killer.”

Twenty miles south of Kansas City, Missouri, Raymore-Peculiar (or “Ray-Pec”) is a socio-economically diverse suburban/rural district. While some substitutes are retired teachers who enjoy working a few days a week, others are college students who accept jobs once a week, and still others work to supplement their income from other employment. “We have very few substitutes who truly see this as their full-time job. The majority are interested in part-time work or additional work to a part-time job that they might have,” says Dr. Hatfield.

Making Substitute Teaching More Attractive

Substitute teachers typically accept jobs because they find meaning in the work. “I think what makes them want to work in Ray-Pec is the culture and environment of our school district and our kids.” Although a paycheck may not be the primary draw, Dr. Hatfield and her department are getting creative to attract substitutes. That includes removing financial barriers to substitute teaching.

Dr. Lisa Hatfield Photo

“In the HR world, I’m about doing anything I can to benefit employees, including improving their well-being. And we know that financial wellness is a piece of that.”

Dr. Lisa Hatfield
– Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources

Next year the standard substitute pay rate will rise modestly, but the timing of pay periods can still be challenging for people with thinner financial margins. The district issues payroll twice a month, but wages are paid about 2 weeks behind when work is completed.

That’s why Dr. Hatfield jumped at the chance when she heard about Wagestream, a service being rolled out through Frontline’s Absence Management. Wagestream allows substitutes who voluntarily enroll in the program to access some of their earned wages immediately — a process known as “flexible pay.”

Flexible Pay with No Implementation Needed

Dr. Hatfield says her Chief Financial Officer first heard about the program. “She just sent it to me and said, ‘Hey, have you seen this? I think this would be a great benefit for our subs.’” Although the idea was new to her, as they explored the program and learned that it would not require significant effort on the part of the district or technical integration with payroll, they decided to go for it. “The reason we decided to go ahead and activate the app for our staff, our substitutes, is that it seemed like pretty much a no-brainer. There was no impact to the district. It seemed like a benefit for our staff, our substitutes.”

“Why wouldn’t we do this? It just seems like there would be no reason not to.”

Dr. Lisa Hatfield
– Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources

Implementation was quick and simple, going live just a couple of weeks after Dr. Hatfield first heard about Wagestream. Although she wondered what they might need to do on the payroll side to activate it, she found the process required no extra work or setup from the team at Raymore-Peculiar. “We really haven’t had to work with anybody. There was no implementation on us. I just sent an email communicating with all my substitutes. There hasn’t been a need for support or interaction.”

Gearing Up for Next Year

Dr. Hatfield says she will communicate with substitutes about Wagestream again before next school year begins. She plans to include information about it in the summer training for substitutes and hopes that Wagestream will help increase fill rates and be an incentive for substitutes who want to teach but might choose to work elsewhere for financial reasons. “I want to attract more substitutes to the district. I want to help them see this as a viable full-time job. I don’t know that $14.50 an hour is going to do that for them. And when you can go to Sam’s Club and make $15, $16, $17 an hour…we’re different in the public sector.”

“It’s very difficult to wait the two weeks in between payrolls,” she says. “Some districts only pay monthly, so I could see this being even a bigger benefit for those school districts.”

“Some districts only pay monthly, so I could see this being even a bigger benefit for those school districts.”

Dr. Lisa Hatfield
– Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources