Unit 5 has approved higher pay rates for its substitute teachers.
The unanimous vote from the district’s school board Wednesday night marks the first time the district has given subs a raise since 2001. The approved changes are the result of an advisory committee created in September to help address pay and other complaints from its subs.
The daily rate for substitute teachers increases from $80 to $85; retired Unit 5 teacher subs will also get a raise, from $100 to $105 a day.
Subs also earn bonus rates as they work more days; those rates have been increased as well, with new “long-term” rates for subs working 31 days or more.
Substitute teachers will also now be paid on the same two-week schedule as district staff, and will be provided with their own email accounts.
Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman said the changes not only give substitute teachers the raise they’d been asking for, but also hopefully incentivize current subs to work more days to help fill vacancies.
Hickman said a review of last school year’s data showed just over half of the district’s active subs worked between one and 15 days.
“The thought process being, if we can incentivize that group to put in a few more days then hopefully we can close that gap and we won’t have jobs go unfilled,” he explained.
Hickman said the conversation with substitute teachers will continue even after the changes are implemented.
“We’re not done this evening; there’s more to come, and really it should be something we visit at least once a year,” he said.
Applying the new schedule to last school year’s substitute teacher hours, the new pay schedule would have a $64,158 budget impact, according to district staff.
Subs will see the new rates applied retroactively to days worked since the semester began Jan. 8.
Substitute teachers had also complained to the board about feeling unwelcome or unappreciated at some schools, and suggested that the district offer training to help subs feel more prepared in the classroom.
Unit 5 Executive Director of Human Resources and Student Services James Harden said those concerns are being addressed as well.
Harden said when substitute teachers report to school at 8 a.m., there’s a lot already going on—maybe too much at once for the school’s secretary to help a sub get settled in.
“Some of our smaller buildings that have one secretary, that’s where we were seeing the problem of, ‘Hey, we don’t necessarily feel like we’re part of the family,” he explained. “Some of our larger buildings that have multiple secretaries, if one person can’t get you, another person can. So no one is being mean-spirited, mean-hearted or anything like that, it’s just workflow at the time. But we’ve done some things to back fill and to assist to make sure that we have sufficient secretarial coverage to make sure that no one is completely swamped and overwhelmed.”
Harden said the district will also hold trainings the third week of each month at the district office. The trainings will be led by current administrators, former teachers and IT professionals to help substitute teachers feel better prepared, he said.
“It’s important that we provide training for not only how to log on to our computers, to turn on the SmartBoard, but maybe some tips and tricks to get students to sit down,” Harden said.
In other business, the district also approved an agreement with Tyler Technologies to purchase a new finance and human resource management system.
District administrators say the new technology will help Unit 5 increase transparency and reporting.
The district will pay $460,651 over two years for the system, with the cost dropping to a $102,329 annual support and maintenance fee in the following years.
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