Substitutes needed: how one Centre Co. school district is looking to fill the void

Local News

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ)– According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Education, (PDE) there’s a shortage of teachers across the state…and with fewer teachers there’s now a greater need for substitutes.

Many districts say they’re becoming harder and harder to find. WTAJ spoke with the State College Area School District (SCASD) who’s looking to provide incentives to gain more subs.

SCASD’s Superintendent Dr. Robert O’Donnell says the district aims to pay retired teachers more money if they return to the classroom as substitutes.

Retired educators are one of many groups SCASD is targeting to fill a current void.

“We’re looking to improve upon where we are right now… and we have the need for substitutes,” Dr. O’Donnell said.

He says right now the district has enough substitutes to cover about 90% of teacher absences on any given day.

“You might say 90-percent sounds pretty good but if your child’s in one of those 10-percent classrooms—that’s a challenge,” Dr. O’Donnell said.

Many times other instructors, such as reading specialists and sometimes principals have to play the role of sub when there are no other options. But, this means they’re not completing main tasks associated with their official position.

“When people plan out their day… what was planned gets pushed off or isn’t done,” Dr. O’Donnell said.

More on SCASD’s incentive for retired teachers:

To attract more substitutes, the district is asking its school board to pay retired teachers $125 a day… a $30 dollar increase over the current rate of $95 a day (which would remain the rate for non-retired educators).

If approved by SCASD’s school board, the increase in pay for retired teachers would take effect immediately.

The main reason the district is targeting this group: the position comes naturally to them and it doesn’t take much paperwork/training to get them back in the classroom.

“It’s a piece of cake,” Dr. O’Donnell said adding that retired teachers would just need to take care of clearances and complete an interview with Human Resources.

Other pools to pull from:

Another group available to the district: Penn State students (both Graduates and Undergraduates).

“If you’re in graduate school at Penn State, you qualify by having an undergraduate degree to be a substitute teacher… we’d have to emergency certify you, which we can do in an efficient manner. If students are in the College of Education majoring in education, and they’re an upper-classman–then they likely qualify as well,” Dr. O’ Donnell said.

He added that subbing often develops strong relationships with a district that could lead to a full-time job in the future.

Wrapping up the sub situation:

Just how badly are substitutes needed? The PDE says they issued more than 17,000 emergency permits for subs last year alone.

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