MISD’s pool of substitutes this school year was higher than average with 470 active substitutes compared to the usual 350-400 substitutes, said Cody Cunningham, district chief communications and support services officer. But the number of substitutes in classrooms has been “much lower,” he said.
“Only 110 have subbed this year,” Cunningham said in an email on Sept. 21. ”Surveys indicate that over half of our applicant pool is concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other applicants have committed to other jobs or have obligations at home.”
Additionally, Cunningham said some substitutes who have worked in years past have decided to stay home to help a child in virtual learning.
Across the state, substitute teachers are in demand more than ever due to COVID-19 concerns, said Steven Poole, executive director of United Educators Association of Texas.
“There’s always been a demand for substitute teachers, and this is just going to heighten that demand,” Poole said.
Some school districts are earmarking extra funds to procure substitute teachers this year.
In August, Lewisville ISD approved roughly $650,000 extra to cover pay increases for substitute teachers. Certified substitute teachers will receive an additional $15 per day, and substitutes with a degree will have an increased pay of $10 per day.
Effective as of Jan. 1, daily substitute rates in McKinney ISD are $110 for a certified teacher from any state, $100 for a substitute with a bachelor’s degree or higher and $90 for a substitute with a high school diploma or equivalent.
The district put out a call on its Facebook page Sept. 11 for qualified substitutes for the current school year through January. Over 40 substitutes attended MISD’s most recent substitute teacher training, Cunningham said.
Once COVID-19 cases decline in McKinney and Collin County, Cunningham said the district is optimistic more substitutes will feel comfortable substitute teaching.
“We know this will be a challenging year, but we are confident that these numbers will increase throughout the year,” he said.
Liesbeth Powers contributed to this report.