FEA members expressed to FEA leadership and staff their frustration with the shortage of qualified substitute teachers, so we put together a survey to determine the scope and nature of the problem.
We found that overall there is a shortage of substitutes. Imagine our shock!
Also, we found that many substitutes lack the background to provide instruction, follow lesson plans, and maintain classroom discipline. Too often other staff are pulled from their normal responsibilities to fill in when a sub is unavailable. This means that during those times, services like reading help and special education are not being delivered, or staff loses their planning time. This harms both instruction and staff morale.
Up until the 2016-17 school year, retired FCPS teachers were paid a higher rate for substitute teaching than others. When their pay was scaled back to equal the pay of substitutes who have little or no experience in the classroom, many retirees quit substituting for FCPS. Others scaled back the amount that they work. This has had two effects: reducing the overall substitute pool, and greatly reducing the number of well qualified substitutes.
At the end of the day, members and leadership came up with a lot of suggestions of ways to fix this problem. We should restore retiree pay and consider increasing the pay rate for all substitutes. FCPS could try to reduce the number of school based days used for trainings. Logistical problems might be mitigated by preventing the ability for a substitute to hop to another job after already accepting a job on a given day. FCPS could increase the quality of substitutes by making sure that they have training on classroom management and following lesson plans.
To read more, and see the results of the survey, click here.
We will be providing the results of this survey to FCPS administration as well as the School Board, and look forward to finding ways to work with the District to fix this problem.