Tuesday morning, over 2,000 students walked into the doors of the Somerset Area School District for their very first day of school.
“The buildings are buzzing with students. Everybody is smiling. Everybody is glad to be back in school,” said Superintendent Krista Mathias.
SASD luckily filled all of their teacher positions this summer in the midst of a national shortage.
But it’s now substitute teachers they’re on the hunt for.
“Worst case scenario is all hands on deck. That might mean a teacher on his or her preparation period will have to cover — or an administrator will have to cover — a class. That means that one classroom might have five or six different people covering all throughout the day,”
She says that person having to fill-in might be a guidance counselor or someone in a specialty role.
“That person might have to take that substitute role in the classroom, which means students would go without those supports during the day. That is certainly not ideal. Those supports are there for a reason. So, it’s really best to have a good substitute in the classroom,”
When there aren’t enough subs, some school districts split up their students and distribute them among other teachers.
Mathias says they usually pull recent college graduates from education programs to sub when needed, but that has been more difficult recently.
“That’s not the case anymore. All of those students who graduate from college come out, and they’ve been hired which is great for them but not necessarily great for school districts who are looking for substitute teachers,”
One study shows that in the 2018-19 school year, schools were unable to cover teacher absences for about 20 percent of the time.
SASD has used Ignite Education Solutions for the last few years to recruit and train subs from all walks of life.
“They can feel free to say yes on the days that they’re available, or say no on days that they’re not available,”
Mathias said they’re also looking to hire teacher’s aides, custodians, and other staff members ahead of the new school year.