Las Cruces Public Schools is creating a four-part plan to address a substitute shortage aimed at compensating teachers, proactively identifying subs and pooling additional resources. “We’ve learned throughout this pandemic, that responding to changing conditions swiftly is in the best interest of our students,” said LCPS Superintendent Ralph Ramos.
The plan comes after the first two weeks of school saw an intermittent increase in the number of teachers calling in sick against the availability of subs willing to pick up jobs to cover them.
“We are not alone in this situation,” said Ramos. “A shortage in the workforce is something we currently see across industries at the state and national level. But doing what’s best for students means we have to find a solution immediately.”
Effective immediately, LCPS will begin to compensate teachers who volunteer to use their planning period – and work afterhours to do their planning – to cover classes where a sub is needed. In addition, the current rate of $100 per day for substitute teachers will increase to $150 per day on Mondays and Fridays – days the district typically sees an increase in teacher absences. The district is also engaging licensed central office staff to cover classes. Permanent substitutes will be placed across the district to proactively address potential shortages and LCPS will proactively hire a pool of substitutes early in the week rather than waiting to fill vacancies as they arise.
“Rather than wait for a teacher to request sick leave that morning, and then scramble to find a sub, we’re going to put subs in place first,” added Ramos.
Providing opportunities for long-term subs is another strategy the district is exploring. According to Ramos, many substitute teachers go on to become educational assistants or even teachers.
“We build leaders,” Ramos said. “Our district is a professional learning environment for both our students and our staff. Assessing a shortage is an opportunity to create something sustainable.”
The district has been hosting an ongoing job fair geared for subs, promoted on social media and online. Anyone interested in scheduling a Zoom interview can email Jesse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Kelly Jameson is the public information officer for Las Cruces Public Schools