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School Districts Struggle with Shortage of Substitute Teachers

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CARL JUNCTION, MISSOURI -

School districts struggle with shortage of substitute teachers. 
Several area school districts use a service to find substitute teachers. But many are tapping the same list that is growing shorter and thats creating daily challenges.
Thursday in Webb City, fifty-five  teachers attended  a professional  development class at the Southwest Center for Education Services.  That meant their fourteen  school districts needed to find fifty-five substitutes.  And they're having a hard time finding them.
Melissa Massey, director at the Southwest Center explained,
We  don't  offer benefits to subs. Subs make eighty to one hundred dollars a day.

Massey and Webb city school superintendent Tony Rossetti believe the substitute shortage is partly to blame on the good economy.
Rossetti said, "You've got low unemployment, second one is still ramifications with the  affordable care act and limiting retirees being able to come back and work for us.  Put all those three things together, it makes it more challenging."

"Hi guys, I
m your substitute, Miss Wilson," said Jennifer Wilson a ten year veteran of substituting to a junior high class in Carl Junction.
The substitute shortage is  a big problem in Carl Junction. State rules limit substitutes like Wilson to working four days a week, otherwise they
d qualify for benefits. But theres still  demand.

Wilson said, "It is a part time  job,  but I  could work almost every day." She gets calls from teachers asking and has to turn them down because she
s hit her maximum number of days. She schedules herself through an app.  But the same group of teachers on a qualified list to work at Carl Junction, is the same tapped by Joplin and Carthage, called Absence Management, so it gets depleted quickly.

The shortage is so severe in Carl Junction and other schools that even teachers on duty can be called away from planning periods to cover a class.

Abby Adamson has seen it from both sides such as when she calls in sick for herself or her kids.  "If  I'm having to have other teachers cover me, I feel terrible. It
s not their fault  a sub cant get there. But again, we cant leave kids in a classroom." 
And Adamson has been pulled from her own planning period and  loses time needed to grade papers.
It's  called coverage mode..
Principal Scott Sawyer explained, "We look for other certified people here in the district we can plug into that spot. We sort of patch coverage together which can be difficult."
No subs and coverage mode has  happened thirty-five  times  already this year just  at the K-1 building. Sawyer said it
s not good for how they educate students.
He said, "Every 49 minutes you have  a different  adult in the  room. Getting consistency from first period all the way to 8th  period is extremely  difficult with that lesson plan."

School officials expect it will only get worse when cold and flu hits schools and teachers call in sick.
And they hope more see the benefits of substitute teaching that Wilson does.

Wilson said, "You set your own schedule when you're a substitute teacher. Another  good reason is because you have the  same hours as your children and that
s fantastic!" 

Rossetti is encouraging more people to try it. He  said being a substitute is a good way to get a foot in the door where school officials can observe someone for possible full time jobs.

 

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