Union Grove

Addressing a shortage of substitutes

Yorkville School struggles to find qualified candidates

By Rumasa Noor

Staff Writer

Some schools in southeastern Wisconsin have been struggling with a shortage of substitute teachers for the past few years.

“At Yorkville School, we have always maintained a small but stable, quality pool of substitute teachers. There is a short list of our go-to people when we need substitute teachers,” said Dave Alexander, district administrator for Yorkville Elementary School. “There are times during the school year that the demand for substitute teachers exceeds our pool of available people.”

Alexander also said the scarcity has increased since the implementation of Wisconsin State Act 10.

Whitewater Unified School District Administrator Eric Runez also said that district has faced a dearth of substitute teachers over the past two years.

“I think many districts in our area utilize the same pool of substitute teachers and that pool has actually shrunk,” he said. “Part of it has been the economy has improved and some people that may have had a substitute teaching license, they found other career opportunities.”

Elkhorn School District Administrator Jason Tadlock also said the slight improvement in the economy might have contributed to the shortage of substitute teachers.

Runez also said fewer college students are studying education, which might contribute to the shortage as well.

“When we post positions, teaching positions have less applicants than they did four years ago,” Runez said. “Positions that we would have normally had seen a 100 applicants, we are seeing considerably less than that.”

To deal with the issue, Yorkville Elementary School engaged with a staffing agency, Parellel Education, in hopes of attaining more substitute teachers, Alexander said.

“The primary goal of partnering with Parallel Education was to increase the pool of available, quality substitute teachers,” he said. “So far, Parallel has been able to meet our staffing needs.  However, I am apprehensive to declare the problem solved.  From what I have read and heard from other administrators around the state, it is getting more and more difficult to fill vacancies with substitute teachers.”

He said schools have been attempting to use computer programs like the sub calling system Aesop, which stands for Automated Educational Substitute OPerator, or SubFinder to try to fill substitute teaching positions.

“These programs try to match up schools looking for substitutes with qualified people seeking to fill spots on a daily, or long-term basis,” Alexander said.

Previously, Elkhorn used to hire teachers with teaching licenses, now they accept teachers with a bachelor’s degree and a teacher’s permit, Tadlock said.

Since many of the positions are part-time, retirees are usually the ones interested in substitute teaching positions or those who enjoy part-time work, according to Tadlock.

Runez said he suspects districts might soon experience a shortage of regular teachers as well.

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