Thursday, June 24, 1999

Temp teacher program expands

Emergency subs in 7 more districts

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Kentucky's experiment with emergency substitute teachers is about to expand.

        Faced with a shortage of substitutes last year, the state's Educational Professional Standards Board initiated a program that allowed high school graduates with little to no training as teachers to serve as emergency substitutes in five districts, including Covington.

        This fall, the number of districts using emergency substitutes will expand to 12.

        Dick Poe, director of personnel for Covington Independent Schools, noted that emergency substitutes in Covington got 20 hours of training on district policy and classroom management for elementary classrooms.

        “Most districts don't provide any training for their substitutes,” he said. “So the (emergency subs) have a leg up on the regular substitutes.”

        The state board agreed to add seven more as yet undetermined districts to those already participating in the program. Others that took part the past school year were in Jefferson, Hardin, Warren and Shelby counties.

        Through March, the five districts used 104 emergency substitutes for a total of 639 days. Covington used used 16 emergency subs for 144 days.

        Mr. Poe said he doesn't think raising substitute pay would attract more qualified subs. He said that in Covington, the benefits aren't the problem, it's the competition.

        “There are so many school districts in the area and across the river,” he said. “There just aren't teachers to go around. It's a never-ending search to find qualified people.”


        Though they were needed throughout the district, the emergency substitutes were only used in Covington's elementary schools. Mr. Poe said. Because it was the program's first year, the district wanted to ease the teachers in slowly.

        He said the emergency substitutes performed well. Many were parents who were already familiar with the school staff. They went through interviews and the same background checks as other employees.

        “When we set this up, it was in the regulations that the people we wanted had to know the school and the community,” Mr. Poe said. “They weren't just people who walked in off the street.”

        The professional standards board will allow the five districts to continue with the emergency program and will accept applications from other districts for the seven openings.

        Two of Covington's neighboring districts have different opinions on using emergency substitutes.

        “We haven't gotten to that point yet,” said Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Dan Sullivan. “I'm not saying it wouldn't happen to us, but for now I would say we're not going to apply.”

        Boone County Schools Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said Covington's success has encouraged him to apply.

        “The bottom line in this business is you can't have enough substitutes,” he said. “With a program like this, we could get quality people who will work out great, but may not meet some of the standards required by the state.”

        While the Cincinnati Public Schools district isn't having trouble finding subs, some suburban Ohio districts offer a modified version of Kentucky's program.

        With the recent layoff of 75 teachers, Cincinnati human resources representative Carol Landweir said the district will find former teachers eager to substitute.

        “They're always willing to come back and help us,” she said. “It's never easy to find substitutes. We could always use more. But we're not having serious problems.”

        Other areas aren't so lucky.

        On any given day, substitutes fill in for about 8 percent of the faculty at Lakota Local Schools in Butler County. Because the district draws from the same substitute list as three other Butler County districts, the names dwindle quickly.

        To remedy this, Lakota offered a two-day training seminar for substitute candidates June 9 and 10. The candidates, who were required to have a bachelor's degree (but not a teaching certificate), received an ap plication to substitute in Ohio upon completing the seminar.

        If substitutes who completed the seminar work for 20 days next year, they will receive a $100 bonus.

        Lakota spokesman John Weidlich said 20 to 30 people attended each of the four seminars. Princeton, Mason and Indian Hill have instituted similar programs.

        The three-day seminar is now mandatory for Indian Hill substitutes.

        “We were afraid that would frighten people away,” Indian Hill spokeswoman Kay Gordon said. “But if they complete the seminar and teach five days, they get a cash bonus. People have responded really well to it.”

        Another seminar is planned for late summer.

        The Educational Professional Standards Board members said they want a clearer picture of how the Kentucky program is working and what steps districts are taking to attract qualified subs before they allow it in all Kentucky districts.

        “We want to collect more data on how emergency substitutes are being used and what districts are doing to eliminate the need to use them at all,” said Tim Dedman, a Fayette County teacher and chairman of the board of standards. “The real solution is to make the profession more attractive.”

        The Associated Press contributed.


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