TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Within the Kyrene School District, there are about 45 teacher absences a day, and there aren't enough substitutes to take their places. "Our substitute fill rate typically is like a 90% at school sites, and it's dropped to 70%," said Lisa Gibson, the district's executive director of talent management.
That means about a dozen or so classes go without a sub each day. "When you don't have a sub in the room, then it's administrators who are covering," Gibson said. "Special-area teachers are going in and filling in during their prep periods, and administration is going in and filling in also."
To attract more people, the district bumped the normal pay of $115/day to $175/day for substitutes. Long-term subs who used to make $140/day now make $200/day, while retired Kyrene educators who came back to substitute now make $205/day, rather than the $145 they used to make.
The daily pay raise seems to be working, too. The district announced it the day before Thanksgiving, and since then, there have already been 70 new people applying to be substitute teachers.
"We're just thrilled that we were able to have this increase," said Kelly Alexander, a retired educator who now works with ESS, which trains substitutes for the Kyrene District. She normally only has four or five new trainees every couple of weeks. This raise is unlike anything she's ever seen for substitutes.
"I retired after 30 years in the school system, and to be honest, substitute rates of pay have not gone up that much," Alexander said. Arizona's Family asked Gibson why the district is focusing on this short-term solution rather than putting the money towards long-term hires.
"Right now, we just needed a short-term solution, which was to increase the rate of pay. But we are working on some long-term solutions also," she said. "We have a group of administrators and district office personnel that are working to find solutions for school sites and for our district."
Those include hiring student teachers who finish in December so they can start work the following year. Anyone interested in becoming a substitute in the Kyrene School District can apply HERE.