District 181 adds Aesop to help with substitute teacher shortage

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Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 is considering additional steps to find more substitute teachers, after an increase in pay nine months ago didn’t do the trick.

The District 181 Board voted Jan. 27 to increase pay for substitutes to $95 from $84 a day, and to $114 from $100.92 for retired District 181 teachers. The increase in pay came after there was a severe shortage of substitutes during the 2013-14 school year.

However, because of continued difficulties in finding enough substitute teachers, the district had 45 absences that were not covered between the start of the 2014-15 school year and Oct. 27.

John Munch, assistant superintendent of human resources for the district, said situations in which substitutes are not found for an absent teacher generally are handled by using other teachers during planning periods or administrators.

During the first seven weeks of this school year, there were 1,373 teacher and instructional assistant absences. The absences were primarily due to sick days (488), professional development and curriculum work (249), long-term leave (140), pupil service meetings (132), and personal days (93).

Munch said part of the difficulty in securing substitute teachers is the current practice of having someone who works personally calling and e-mailing substitute teachers for every absence.

“The majority of other districts use an automated calling system that contacts substitute teachers the moment an absence is entered, rather than having a small window of contact time each morning and evening as our current system allows,” Munch said.

To combat that problem, the district is in the process of implementing Aesop, an electronic management program, which is the most widely used and highly regarded program of this type, Munch said.

“Doing so will allow us to schedule subs the moment an absence is entered,” he said. “Just about every school district in the area is using it.”

Munch said the system should be operational some time after Christmas. The part-time employee who has been handling calls for substitute teachers will remain on the job, coordinating the new system.

Additional steps being taken to help solve the problem include: meeting with the teachers’ association to determine which positions require substitute teachers and which can go without; investigating the costs and benefits of hiring “permanent subs”; and being more strategic about the scheduling of professional development and curriculum work.

“It’s not necessarily a pay issue,” Munch said, adding that his research indicated District 181 to be “in the ballpark” with other DuPage County school districts for substitute pay.

“The sub pool is down significantly in every district,” he said. “I think not as many people are interested in part-time or temporary jobs. That’s good for the economy, but makes it more difficult to find enough substitute teachers.”

District 181 uses an average of about 40 substitutes each day, Munch said.

Source:

Fieldman, Chuck. “District 181 adds system to help with substitute teacher shortage.” hinsdale.suntimes.com (28 October 2014). http://hinsdale.suntimes.com/2014/10/28/district-181-adds-system-help-substitute-teacher-shortage/ (4 November 2014).