It looks like substitute teachers in Unit 5 will get the pay raise they’ve been asking for.
Beginning in August several Unit 5 substitute teachers complained to board members about the district’s pay rate and pay schedule for subs. The complaints prompted district officials to form an advisory group to the board on substitute teacher issues in September.
District administrators delivered the group’s recommendations to the board Wednesday night.
Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman said the committee recommends daily rate increases at intervals based on number of days worked throughout the year, starting with an automatic increase on the first day worked.
Hickman said administrators still need to work out the actual rate increase schedule and total cost of the pay raises, numbers they’ll present at the board’s Jan. 16 meeting.
The committee also recommends shifting from paying subs once a month to the same biweekly schedule as teachers and administrators, said Unit 5 Executive Director of Human Resources and Student Services James Harden.
Subs will see the raise retroactively take effect Jan. 8 as long as the board approves the changes Jan. 16.
Harden said the proposed changes would not only address substitute teachers’ concerns, but the district’s concerns as well.
One question the committee hoped to answer was how to solve the district’s substitute teacher shortage, Harden said. Another was how to hold on to the subs it already has.
The group’s proposed solutions include streamlining the application process and providing subs access to the district’s student information system and email accounts.
The ultimate goal is to help subs feel more like “part of the family,” Harden said.
“What can we do as an entire unit to make sure that we are being as welcoming and as warm as possible to our guest teachers who are providing a phenomenal service?” he explained.
Board member Alan Kalitzky commended the committee for tackling the issue.
“It is something in which we need to be a much more welcoming district,” he said. “We need to make sure we are providing as much flexibility in treating those resources as resources, and not just as another body in a classroom.”
The committee also recommends providing professional development opportunities for subs such as classroom management and technology instruction.
“Just basic level, how to be a little more successful in the classroom on a daily basis,” Harden explained.
The district’s current $80 daily rate was last increased in 2001, said School Board Vice President Mike Trask.
He said the challenge before staff is to choose a rate that keeps Unit 5 competitive without adding to the district’s deficit.
“The caveat is, as I’ve said with everything we’ve increased this year, we are structurally in that red, but we also feel that this is something we need to do at this time, and we understand that need,” he said.
Harden said the district plans to continue meeting periodically with subs even after the proposed changes take effect.
“We’re not going to wait another 18 years to have a conversation,” he said.
Tax Levy, Student Information System
Board members approved final estimates for the district’s 2018 tax levy.
Hickman said the district’s projected property tax rate is slightly lower than the preliminary estimate he presented to the board last month.
The levy is expected to result in a $0.34 rate increase, adding an estimated $200 to the property tax bill on a $175,000 home.
The board also approved district administrators’ recommendation to replace Unit 5’s current student information system (SIS) with the more comprehensive and more expensive InfiniteCampus.
Unit 5 will spend $393,765 on the system over the course of the one-year contract. That price tag includes additional data analysis software and the cost to train staff and teachers to use the system.
The district estimates the recurring cost for the system at $266,155 for subsequent years.
Saff say the technology is worth the added cost to save teachers time and effort, better track students’ progress and increase ease of use and accessibility for parents.
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