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District 87 Approves New Substitute Pay Rates

District 87 school board members meet
Breanna Grow
District 87 approved a new pay schedule for its substitute teachers Wenesday night.

Bloomington’s District 87 approved new pay rates for substitute teachers, just one week after Unit 5 took similar action.

The District 87 school board unanimously approved the change without discussion at its regular meeting Wednesday night.

District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said the move helps both districts stay competitive with neighboring employers.

"We knew this was going to cost more money at a time when we're already in deficit. That's very difficult to do."

“We use a lot of the same subs, and we certainly don’t want to lose subs out of Bloomington-Normal to outlying schools, so we felt it was important to address,” he said.

The district’s daily rate for substitute teachers will increase to $95. Retired teachers and administrators will also see their rate increase, up to $115 a day.

However the district actually decreased the extended rate, paid to subs working at least 31 days, down to $150.

Reilly said reducing the rate for long-term subs will help keep the budget impact modest. Current long-term subs will continue earning the higher rate.

He said the move allows the district to give raises where they’re most needed while minimizing the overall budget impact.

“We knew this was going to cost more money at a time when we’re already in deficit. That’s very difficult to do,” he said. “At the same time, we know we haven’t changed those rates for years.”

It's been at least 15 years since District 87 subs got a raise, he said.

“We really looked for ways to give a good increase at the front end, because that’s about 80 percent of the days that people sub are those one-time days,” he added.

Reilly said based on last school year’s calendar, the change is projected to have an estimated 2 percent or $10,000 budget impact.

Unlike Unit 5, District 87 will not offer bonus rates based on days worked.

“It becomes a little more cumbersome for our payroll and accounting office to manage that,” Reilly said.

The rate changes go into effect Feb. 1.

Talk of giving substitute teachers a raise began in Unit 5 after a veteran sub complained the district didn’t pay enough for the job. Reilly said he had heard similar concerns from subs in his district.

Unit 5 subs had also complained the district wasn’t doing enough to make its subs feel welcome in their schools.

Reilly said that’s not been an issue in his district, pointing to the work of district administrators like Assistant Superintendent Herschel Hannah Jr.

“(Hannah) does an absolutely phenomenal job of onboarding our substitute teachers,” Reilly said. “He really works well with our principals to make sure that we value and show that we value our substitute teachers.”

“It’s not that you might not have isolated cases where a substitute might not have the best experience,” Reilly added. “But our building principals address those, Dr. Hannah addresses those, and so overall I’d like to think that we do a pretty good job of making them feel valued.”

While the raise may encourage subs to work more days, Reilly said he’s not confident it will encourage more people to become subs.

“A lot of that just has to do with the job market,” he said. “People are in jobs; that’s a good thing. But when it comes to substitute teachers, that means there’s less of a pool out there.”

Unit 5 also moved subs from a roughly six-week to a biweekly pay schedule. Reilly said District 87 already pays its subs every two weeks.

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Breanna Grow is a correspondent for GLT. She joined the station in September 2018.
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