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Tue, Feb. 18

School district deals with substitute crisis
CVUSD lowers requirements for being a sub

Brandy Cox, principal at Territorial Early Education Center, is one of the local school officials dealing with a shortage of substitute teachers. (PNI file photo)

Brandy Cox, principal at Territorial Early Education Center, is one of the local school officials dealing with a shortage of substitute teachers. (PNI file photo)

The substitute teacher for the band students at Heritage Middle School looked a little familiar.

It was Chino Valley Unified School District Superintendent John Scholl.

“They knew who I was,” Scholl said. “One of the kids was the son of one of our board members. It was neat just to be able to interact with the students a lot, because I don’t get that opportunity a lot, like I used to.”

Scholl stepped in to be a substitute that day because of what he calls a crisis situation, the district does not have enough substitute teachers. Because of that, Scholl said they are going to lower requirements in an effort to sign up more substitute teachers. Instead of needing a bachelor’s degree, substitute teachers will only need a high school diploma.

“It’s not just isolated to Chino Valley, it’s at least a western Yavapai County problem,” Scholl said. “I meet regularly with the other superintendents in the area, and it’s something that we’ve identified: That everyone is short subs.”

Del Rio Elementary School Principal Carolyn Reeder said that one day was so bad, two of her regular substitute teachers offered to come in even though they were sick. Reeder said she took one look at them, and then sent them home.

When no substitute teachers are available, Scholl said they send the students into other classes. He said the improving economy means that many former substitute teachers have found full-time work elsewhere, and that has led to a decrease in subs for the school district.

The old requirements for being a substitute teacher was a bachelor’s degree, undergoing a background check that required fingerprinting, and a teaching certificate from the state. That allows you to substitute teach at any district in the state.

The revised requirements will only be accepted by the CVUSD and is considered an emergency substitute certificate. Applicants would still need to undergo a background check with fingerprinting, but they would only need a high school degree.

“The thinking was that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody has more common sense than another person,” Scholl said.

“To be a substitute, you need to like kids, you need to have common sense – that’s most of it, and you need to be able to get a fingerprint clearance card.”

Scholl said that another step they are considering is working on a “sub-sharing” system with the Humboldt Unified and Prescott Unified school districts.

The district pays subs $85 a day, and $95 a day at Heritage Middle School (it has longer days). If the substitute teacher has completed the county’s training program, the substitute earns an extra $10 a day, so $95 and $105 a day, Scholl said.

“The idea is that a good sub, you should be able to do any class. It’s more classroom management, than teaching,” Scholl said. “Hopefully the teacher has left a lesson plan that can be accomplished … no matter who the adult is in the room.”

Scholl said if someone is thinking about becoming a substitute teacher, the best thing to do is to take the county’s free training class.

“It gives them a lot of the skills needed, some strategies,” Scholl said. “They’re pretty brutally honest about what happens inside the classroom for a substitute. It can be a tough job if you’re not in charge. That training gives you some insight about what takes place.”

And it also increases your pay by $10 a day, Scholl said.

Scholl said parents should not worry about lowering the education requirements for substitute teachers. He said the regular teacher is still planning out the lessons. Substitutes are there to manage the classroom.

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