Wake County Schools

Wake school board approves pay incentive for substitute teachers

Posted January 5, 2021 4:53 a.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2021 7:51 p.m. EST

— After staffing shortages in the first semester, the Wake County Public School System is ramping up efforts to recruit substitute teachers, offering pay boosts for more work.

School board members passed the financial incentive 7-1 on Tuesday. The increase ranges from $100 to $425 a month, depending on how many days teachers work.

The school district is also launching a new recruitment campaign for substitute teachers with the theme: “We need you. They need you.”

School leaders said that, in the last two weeks of December, 825 teacher absences were reported on an average day, and 256 staff members were reassigned each day to fill in for those absences.

On average, 509 substitute requests were submitted daily in the last two weeks of the fall semester: 322 of those requests were filled, while 187 were left unfilled.

School leaders said there was double the number of requests for substitutes in December than in October.

A survey was sent out to around 3,000 substitutes about picking up shifts for the spring semester. Of the more than 1,400 responses, 958 substitutes said they were willing and available to pick up shifts beginning in January, while 506 said they were not currently picking up substitute jobs.

About 450 substitutes said they would begin picking up jobs when they received the coronavirus vaccine, while 443 said they were currently picking up jobs and would continue to do so.

The school district suffered staffing shortages during the first semester as teachers were forced to quarantine from possible coronavirus exposures.

"There is just a general need when teachers are absent, but often, during a pandemic, you may have teachers who need to quarantine for a period of time," said A.J. Muttillo, assistant superintendent for human resources. "We are following health protocols as strictly as we can, and we want folks to stay home when they are not well. and that means we need folks who are well to come in and fill that need.”

To be a substitute teacher, it's not required that you be a certified teacher or have previous teaching experience. You will need a high school diploma or a GED, however, and you must complete a short online training course.

In a meeting on Dec. 15, the board agreed that all K-12 students should stay in all-remote learning until at least Jan. 15 because of the staffing shortages.

The current plan for the spring semester, which begins in mid-January, would bring pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students back to full-time, in-person instruction. Middle school students would stay in a three-week rotation, with one week in the classroom and two weeks in remote learning, and high school students would transition into a similar mix of remote and in-person learning.

The board also discussed the record number of coronavirus cases North Carolina has seen since the holidays.

On Monday, the rolling, seven-day average number of new daily cases in North Carolina reached an all-time high over 7,000.

Also, one in every six people tested for coronavirus is receiving a positive result. The state has a target of 5 percent positive tests.

WRAL anchor/reporter Adam Owens contributed to this report.

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