While the substitute teacher shortage was certainly felt even before the pandemic, the 2020-2021 school year has been wrought with challenges when it comes to achieving even moderate fill rates. With the added strain to the administrative staff, many districts are choosing to outsource their substitute staffing needs.
Working with a substitute staffing firm has many advantages for school districts. Rather than deal with the headaches of recruiting, hiring and managing substitutes, many school districts have decided to shift those responsibilities to a staffing partner, freeing them up to focus on the classroom.
If your district is on the fence about partnering with a substitute staffing firm, consider these benefits:
Increase the quantity of available substitutes
In a typical academic year, schools should have two-and-a-half to three times the number of available subs as there are daily openings. The problem is most districts don’t come close—even without the stress of the pandemic. A study from Frontline Education shows a steady decline in the number of substitute teachers in prep programs. In Kansas, the number of available substitute teachers dropped by more than 26% between 2010 and 2016, a figure that’s worsening as the pandemic continues to keep substitutes away from the classroom.
To combat the abysmal fill rates, many districts have chosen to contract with a substitute staffing firm, giving them access to a much larger pool of available subs. Districts who work with Morgan Hunter Education consistently achieve higher fill rates than the national average. For the 2018-2019 school year, for example, our partner districts averaged a 97% fill rate, compared to the national average of 82%.
To assess how your district stacks up when compared nationally or to others in the state, Frontline Education provides a tool that can help you benchmark your district’s fill rate. Outsourcing your substitute staffing can help close the substitute teacher gap in your district.
Improve the quality of substitutes
Some substitute staffing partners, such as Morgan Hunter Education, employ more rigorous requirements in order to join their pool of substitutes. Make sure any partner you evaluate conducts thorough interviews and additional background checks to ensure the candidate is highly qualified. Morgan Hunter requires our teachers to attend orientation to learn about the school districts they’ll be working in as well as continuing education courses—all to ensure every substitute is highly trained.
We know the challenges facing Kansas and Missouri school districts this year, and we’re committed to not only filling the classroom, but to provide our students with high-quality instruction. The HR department at USD 232, one of our school district partners, elaborates:
“I feel like Morgan Hunter cares about who is placed in our buildings, and they realize that we also take it very seriously. They’re not just trying to put in a warm body. They want it to be a good fit for those students, and that means a lot.”
Even with the demand for substitute teachers at an all-time high, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality or quantity when it comes to finding the right substitutes for your students. By outsourcing your substitute staffing, you can keep the classroom running smoothly with high-quality educators passionate about local students.
Reduce administrative duties
District staff are already inundated with a tremendous amount of work. Between payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, background check certification statuses and retirement benefits, administrators can’t keep their full attention on the classroom. Not to mention the amount of time spent coordinating staff absences and determining which classrooms require a substitute teacher or virtual learning supervisor.
Partnering with a substitute teaching staffing firm can help unburden your staff, allowing you to prioritize your students’ education during an unusual school year.
If you think your district could benefit from using a substitute teacher staffing firm, or you’d like to learn more about the benefits, contact Morgan Hunter Education. With 15 years of experience serving local school districts, we’re prepared to help you navigate these uncertain times and keep your staff focused on what matters the most: your students.
Angela Hunt is program director at Morgan Hunter Education, providing a cost-effective, high-quality solution to substitute teaching in the greater Kansas City region. Share your thoughts on Facebook!