Triad school districts scrambling to hire substitute teachers

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — Will there be enough staff at your child’s school in a little over a month?

Districts across the Triad are scrambling to hire substitute teachers to cover every class in the upcoming school year.

It’s a struggle many school systems are facing.

“Subs were the heroes, at least among the many heroes during COVID,” said Jevelyn Bonner-Reed, the chief HR officer with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

She told FOX8 it was only during the COVID-19 pandemic that they realized just how important substitute teachers are in keeping schools open.

“We were a bit short, even before COVID, but to be honest with COVID, it revealed how much we needed to work on the substitute area,” Bonner-Reed said.

Subs were able to quickly take over classes, making sure students in her district could still learn.

But they’re still a little short-handed.

“In order to continue bringing students back in person, which we were so lucky to be able to do in the spring, we know we need to ramp up our substitutes,” Bonner-Reed said. “Before COVID we were in the 70-80% fill rate, and we could figure out that other 20-30%. When COVID came along, it dropped down to 50-60%.”

Right now, WSFCS has fewer than 900 subs to cover 80 schools.

They’d like to have 1,000 subs on hand to make sure they won’t have any gaps.

“I have kids and I asked them when they come home, how was class today, and they’ll say, ‘Oh mom, we had to combine classes,” Bonner-Reed said.

To get a full staff in a little over a month, she told FOX8 the district has partnered with a company called ESS to hire, train and fill their open substitute teacher positions.

“The training will be there, there’ll be more standardization across the schools in terms of welcoming subs and making sure they have what they need to be successful,” Bonner-Reed said.

The Alamance-Burlington School System is also outsourcing.

They’ve partnered with a different company, called Kelly Education, to hire more subs.

The district had 213 subs on staff already. With the help from the new company, they’re now only 106 substitutes short of their goal.

It’s a problem districts across the Triad are trying to get a handle on.

“Why are all of us doing it? We need resources, we like a lot of the businesses out there. It’s really tough to find people when you need them,” Bonner-Reed said. “This allows us to focus on hiring teachers and bus drivers.”

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