The South Orange-Maplewood School District has been struggling to attract sufficient numbers of substitute teachers this year — a problem that boiled over at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Dec. 19.
“You cannot have a school without teachers,” said one Marshall School parent during public comments. The mother complained that having teachers cover multiple classes or “breaking up students in groups of 5 to 7 and adding them to other classes is stressful for students and difficult for teachers.”
Read more about the situation here.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Ramos said that the school district was taking a multifaceted approach to fixing the problem, including making a call to community members to apply for substitute teacher positions.
“We might want to consider a call to the community [for those] who are eligible to sub and simply do not know we have a problem.” Ramos addressed the audience at home: “Hello out there in TV land. We have a problem…. We urge you to come and apply.”
So just how does one apply?
Do NOT go to the district website.
“Currently, to apply, send an email to [email protected],” said a district spokeswoman. “You will then be placed on the list to be invited to the district’s next orientation session for potential substitute teachers.”
“Past practice has been to wait until we had a large enough cohort of potential substitutes to go through a training, which also has served as a screening to identify higher quality candidates,” said the spokeswoman, District Director of Strategic Communications Suzanne Turner.
“We are adjusting this practice to help potential substitute teachers complete the necessary paperwork right away, rather than waiting until after an orientation session. Screening will take place at the beginning of the process, and training will be offered more frequently.”
Since 2004, SOMSD has been procuring substitute teachers through The Substitute Service. Substitutes are paid $90 per day if they have a college degree, and $70 per day if they do not, said Turner.
Village Green spoke to several former substitute teachers in the district who noted that the rates have not gone up in ten years. Perhaps the district/Substitute Service might consider raising rates to attract more candidates?
“We are looking at what neighboring districts pay their substitutes and may recommend a change to the pay rate, depending on what we find,” said Turner.