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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district leaders are scheduled to discuss a change in their policy that would make it easier to hire substitute teachers, at a time when fill-ins are tough to come by.

The district’s current policy is among the highest set of standards in the state. For teachers to be substitute teachers, they must meet a series of requirements that include 60 semester hours of college credit.

At Thursday’s school board meeting, leaders will talk about bringing that down to 48 hours of college credit, similar to what is seen in other districts in the state.

Per data that will be presented at the meeting:

“This year, the district has the highest number of requested substitutes when compared to the last two years. As a result, it has been challenging to fill more than 60% of the requested substitutes. We need to recruit more substitutes to fill these roles and the current educational requirement for substitutes is narrowing our pool of candidates. We compared our substitute requirement to districts across the state and collected feedback from candidates that have applied. We determined if we changed our educational requirements, we could expand our pool of candidates, while still maintaining high quality substitutes. Our desired outcome is for our substitute management partner to hire more substitutes so we can increase our substitute fill rate.”

In July Chief HR Officer Javelyn Bonner-Reed said that the district entered the pandemic shorthanded.

“Before COVID, we were in the 70s to 80% fill rate and we would figure out that other 20 to 30%. When COVID came along it dropped down to 50 to 60%.”

The district has around 900 substitute teachers to cover 80 schools. The district would like to have closer to 1,000.

The reduction in required hours would increase the pool of substitutes to choose from, and make it easier for the district to fill teachers’ requests.

If approved, the district will track the number of applicants that were hired because of the change, and if there was any significant/negative change to students’ ability to learn.