Cy-Fair ISD ramps up efforts to recruit, retain substitutes with teacher absences up in 2020-21

Inactive substitutes in Cy-Fair ISD reported they had not accepted assignments this year due to COVID-19 concerns. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Inactive substitutes in Cy-Fair ISD reported they had not accepted assignments this year due to COVID-19 concerns. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Inactive substitutes in Cy-Fair ISD reported they had not accepted assignments this year due to COVID-19 concerns. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The number of daily teacher absences in Cy-Fair ISD rose from 568 in January 2020 to 821 in January 2021, but the number of substitutes working each day decreased from 490 to 440 in that timeframe, according to district data.

CFISD has 1,307 active substitute teachers as of late January, and nearly 600 have been hired so far this school year—up from about 300 in 2019-20. But officials said they would like to see the fill rate increase.

“In the fall of 2020 it was evident to us that we had a concern with regards to our substitute fill rate. We had a problem with increased teacher absences and a lower fill rate than the previous year, and we recognized the need to have more [active] substitutes accepting assignments,” Onica Mayers, director of employee relations and professional staffing, said at the March 8 board meeting.

A survey sent to substitute teachers and paraprofessionals in the fall found 91% of respondents were comfortable with the safety protocols established on campuses, and 61% had accepted at least one job in the 2020-21 school year.

Mayers said 95% of those who were not accepting assignments at the time attributed it to COVID-19. Most of these reported they were reluctant or fearful to take jobs on campuses, and others said they had underlying health concerns, had children attending school virtually from home or were caring for someone else.

Based on responses gathered in the survey, Mayers said an increase in pay and end-of-semester bonuses would help incentivize substitute teachers and increase the district’s fill rate.

Many substitutes were eligible for a stipend at the end of the fall semester, and others could be eligible for a longevity stipend at the end of the spring semester, according to Melanie Dobney, assistant director of CFISD’s substitute office.

Dobney said the daily pay rate for substitutes with at least a bachelor’s degree is higher in Fort Bend, Houston, Katy, Klein and Tomball ISDs, and increasing the daily pay rate in CFISD from $92 to $105 would ensure the district remains competitive with its neighbors.

“And if we want to lead the area and really get the best of the best of our substitute teachers and have them choose Cy-Fair ISD to substitute, we need to go as high as $115 per day in order to do that,” Dobney said.

These proposed pay increases would cost the district an estimated $1.2 million-$2.2 million.

To attract more substitute teacher applicants to CFISD, the district also modified requirements in February to allow individuals with a minimum of 48 college credit hours to apply. These individuals are paid $84 each day they work instead of the $92 degreed substitutes make.

Previously, Dobney said the district was one of the few in the region that required substitutes to have a bachelor’s degree, and since changing the requirements about 25% of applicants have not had bachelor’s degrees.

Those interested in applying to work as a substitute in CFISD can learn more at
By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


The text of General Order No. 3, which Gordon Granger issued from Galveston in June 1865 to explicitly liberate enslaved Black Texans, runs across the bottom of the mural. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘I am filled’: Houston-Galveston area celebrates first Juneteenth as federal holiday

See how local policymakers, historians, artists and philanthropists honored the Juneteenth holiday at its birthplace with the dedication of a 5,000-square-foot mural.

The convenience store chain is known for its Slurpees and self-serve soda fountains. (Courtesy 7-Eleven)
7-Eleven, Laredo Taco Company now open at Hwy. 249, Spring Cypress

The new location features a fueling station, car wash and beer cave.

The Texas Central rail connection from Dallas to Houston will feature a bullet train similar to this one. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Supreme Court declines to review high-speed rail case, freeing company up to use eminent domain

Texas Central, the company looking to build a 236-mile high-speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas, has been given a big win in an ongoing legal battle over whether the company is legally recognized as a "railroad company" under state law.

There will be various events across the Houston area celebrating the Fourth of July, including League City's Fireworks Extravaganza. (Courtesy of League City)
12 Fourth of July weekend events, celebrations to attend in the Greater Houston area

Here are 12 Fourth of July weekend events throughout the Houston region.

More than 20 countries, including Denmark, participate in CETUSA. (Courtesy CETUSA)
Foreign exchange student program seeks host families

CETUSA is a nonprofit foreign exchange program for high school students.

The Backyard Grill opened in 2001 and continues to offer burgers, sandwiches, wings, tacos, seafood and more at its Jones Road restaurant. (Courtesy The Backyard Grill)
The Backyard Grill celebrates 20 years of business in Cy-Fair

The Backyard Grill opened in 2001 and continues to offer burgers, sandwiches, wings, tacos, seafood and more at its Jones Road restaurant.

ribbon cutting
Nearly $400M project to boost Houston-area water supply by up to 500M gallons a day

The project has been in development for over 50 years and broke ground in 2017.

Lone Star College has been approved for additional baccalaureate programs following House Bill 3348 being signed June 16. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College approved for additional baccalaureate programs

Lone Star College can now have up to five bachelor programs, up from its current three.

Following Hurricane Harvey, debris lined the streets in many parts of Harris County. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
After Department of Housing and Urban Development denies request, Texas General Land Office drafting plan to subaward Harris County $750M for flood mitigation

The Texas General Land Office now plans to subaward Harris County flood mitigation funding after the county was left out of recent Hurricane Harvey relief funds.

A house in the Balmoral development in Kingwood.
2,300 homes slated along FM 2920 in Hockley

Land Tejas will construct 2,300 new homes in a 646-acre development in Hockley.