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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Schools experiencing sub shortage

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

When teachers get sick or have personal issues they need to attend to, the tried and true solution is to fill in for them with a substitute teacher, but Glendive Public Schools is finding itself in a real tight spot this year as the district suffers from an acute shortage of substitutes.

“We’re in dire need of subs,” Superintendent Stephen Schreibeis told the members of the Glendive Unified School Board last Tuesday night. “We’ve always struggled getting subs, but this year even more so than in the past. We typically have about 15 subs, but at this year’s training, we had two.”

Schreibeis said the substitute teacher shortage gripping the district this year is the result of a combination of factors, namely that the district had more vacancies than usual following the last school year and many people who were formerly subs applied for and were hired for those positions and so now work for the district full-time as teachers or staff.

“In order to fill some of the positions, a lot of former substitutes have taken jobs in the district,” Schreibeis said.

With only two substitute teachers available to begin this year, Schreibeis said it has been a challenge and placed a strain on teachers, administrators and staff in every school in the district at some point in this still young school year.

“I know the schools have had that happen, where they cannot get subs and they have to figure out how it’s going to work,” he said. “It’s a lot of work for the principals and secretaries. It puts a lot of strain on them and everyone really, including the students.”

Schreibeis also noted that teachers may end up coming into work sick or forego taking a day off to take care of important personal business because they can’t find a substitute.

“It puts a burden on teachers to maybe not do some of the things they normally would,” he said. “When you’re worried about not getting a sub, what teachers end up doing because of who they are is they try not to take days off.”

While Schreibeis said the school district has no choice but to tough it out and “make it work” when they have a teacher out, he noted that the substitute shortage is proving to be a real headache for the entire district.

“It puts a strain on everyone. Every single person in the school district is affected because when we can’t find anyone, we have to shift people around to deal with it,” he said.

Seeking to encourage more community members to sign up as substitute teachers, Schreibeis said being one can be very rewarding and a great way to give back to the community while getting paid for your time.

“If someone was thinking about it, I would say it’s a great opportunity to work with kids and help them with their development as human beings,” he said. “We say in this district that we’re always trying to add value, and they have the opportunity to come in and add some value.”

To be a substitute teacher, a person must be a high school graduate and go through the district’s application process, including passing a background check. The last step is to take training course that Schreibeis said can be completed online within a few hours.

The district pays $13.25 an hour to substitutes who have a valid teaching certificate and $12 an hour to those who don’t.

Anyone interested in becoming a substitute teacher is encouraged to contact Schreibeis at the district office at 377-5339. Besides substitutes,  Schreibeis also noted the district is short-staffed on paraprofessionals and custodians and is actively seeking applicants for those positions as well.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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