Need for substitutes in Austin ISD appears to have peaked, dropped

Leslie Stephens, AISD's chief of human capital, provided substitute data at the Jan. 27 school board meeting. (Screenshot courtesy of AISD)
Leslie Stephens, AISD's chief of human capital, provided substitute data at the Jan. 27 school board meeting. (Screenshot courtesy of AISD)

Leslie Stephens, AISD's chief of human capital, provided substitute data at the Jan. 27 school board meeting. (Screenshot courtesy of AISD)

Austin ISD made several changes to its substitute teacher policies to attract new candidates amid a COVID-19-induced shortage. Increased pay and a lowered college credit requirement sparked a rise in substitute applications, according to district representatives at a school board meeting Jan. 27.

Leslie Stephens, AISD's chief of human capital, said the district received 597 new substitute applications since announcing the pay increase on Jan. 15. Prior to the announcement, they received an average of 10 applications a day.

Low student attendance means AISD has been able to combine classes to manage the teacher shortage. Central office staff have also served as on-call support for essential absences to address the substitute shortage, a policy that will continue in a limited capacity. The superintendent will expect office staff to serve as a substitute once a month as a way to stay connected to the district's classrooms.

Surrounding districts have closed schools because of staff shortages.

“We have not come close to that. That hasn’t been a thought,” Stephens said. “But there were a couple of days when we were getting a little nervous.”



Stephens acknowledged that the pandemic exacerbated the substitute shortage but did not create it. She said the district plans to continue growing its substitute pool by making sure pay is competitive, opening elementary and middle school substitute positions to candidates with under 60 college hours and using central office staff when necessary.

By Glorie Martinez

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Glorie joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. Glorie covers education, business, city/county government, real estate developments and more. Prior to CI, she was an intern at KUT Public Media in Austin.

By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.