Lack of teaching substitutes leaves SLC desperate

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    By HEATHERLEE BROWN

    Editor’s note: This article is the first in a three-part series on substitute teaching.

    Although local school districts seem to have an abundance of substitute teachers, many Salt Lake school districts are suffering from a lack of them.

    Salt Lake school districts have been expressing deep concern in school board meetings over the lack of substitutes to fill teacher absences.

    In many desperate situations, they have been pulling administrators, media aides and other staff members within the schools to substitute.

    Casi Smith, substitute coordinator for Alpine School District, said teachers in Salt Lake school districts are also having a difficult time getting time off for future planned absences.

    “The lack of substitutes has made filling teacher absences very chaotic,” said Roger Meiner, a personnel specialist in the Jordan School District Administrative offices. “We are desperate for help in the classrooms.”

    At the beginning of the school year, Salt Lake City school districts had 150 to 175 substitute volunteers, with an additional 10 to 12 new substitute teachers each week.

    “This is plenty of substitutes to cover the different teacher absences,” Meiner said. “Unfortunately, the substitutes stay long enough to find another job.”

    The good economy is one of the main reasons administrators in Salt Lake school districts are explaining their deficiency. Other reasons include the required teacher certification, low wages for Salt Lake City and mandatory teaching experience.

    Nicole Wiman, Assistant Principal for Lakeridge Junior High in Orem, said there are many jobs available with better pay and less stress, and community members in Salt Lake and surrounding areas are choosing the other jobs.

    Meiner agrees.

    “A person can go work at McDonald’s and earn just as much as substituting, (besides having) more job security, a discount on food, and they don’t have to deal with the stress of lesson plans and teaching a classroom full of children.”

    Meiner added that if a person has certification and teaching experience, they usually are already teaching full-time.

    “There is more job security in full-time teaching as opposed to substituting,” said Sherry Clark, public information officer for the Salt Lake school districts.

    This deficiency of substitute teachers, however, does not reflect on the Provo, Alpine and Orem School Districts.

    Wiman said they have no problem covering absences because of so many people in local communities eager to substitute.

    Utah County schools have a variety of people substituting including BYU and UVSC students, retired teachers, mothers and community volunteers.

    “We just have really good kids,” Wiman said. “They’re really neat and easy to work with.”

    Neither Provo or Alpine School Districts require teaching certification or past teaching experience. The local school districts pay $42 for a full day and $21 for half day, which is 3.5 hours or less.

    The Salt Lake school districts pay $54 a day and $27 for four hours or less. Permanent substitutes — who are required to work every week day — are paid $59 for a full day.

    These wages are better than the Utah County school districts but are still low for Salt Lake City, Meiner said.

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